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Wag the Blog Redux: Understanding Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former North Carolina senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, recently launched a media tour to promote her new book, "Resilience," and talk publicly about her husband's infidelity -- a move that sparked a whirlwind of controversy.

In last week's Wag the Blog, we asked you to weigh in on the significance of her decision to speak so candidly about family matters.

Here's a look at the most insightful responses we received as culled by Post Digital producer Sarah Lovenheim:

She Made a Sound Choice

"The pain in Elizabeth Edward's account is palpable. I really feel for her. I think her motive is to set the record straight before it can be distorted for her children in the future. She knows she is going to leave them prematurely and history has a way of re-writing itself in the hands of others. This is her story and she needed to make it concrete... We should not try to second guess why she is doing this but just admire her for taking a stand and leaving something for her children." -- primadonna1

"I am continually astounded at people who criticize the victim of infidelity. Especially when it's a public figure... Elizabeth Edwards seems to me to be completely blameless in all of this and I can't fault her a bit for going public with their private business because the media and practically everyone else have made it public business. And if she is sharing painful personal information that embarrasses him further, well, that was what he signed up for when he chose to betray his commitment to Elizabeth. Period. All bets were off at that point. Let her have her day in court...!" --amhartley

What Was She Thinking?

"Bringing this stuff back up and going back through it all can serve no positive purpose... The only reasonable explanation is that she wants to go down in history as the most noble of all political wives... the publicity is only negative at this point for her husband. Seems to me like she is sacrificing what little dignity her family had left to leave her mark on the political world. There seems to be little other explanation for the sudden rush of publicity regarding the debacle that was the Edwards affair and campaign. I felt bad for her before, but now she is using a terrible incident for her own personal agenda."
-- brentlundberg

"You know, my only reaction to this situation has been as a parent... when a terminally ill parent decides to spend time and effort on a spouse's misconduct, they cement the image of that parent as a cheat or a liar for their children's reflection after they are gone.
Maybe, to some extent, it was important to Elizabeth Edwards that her children understand the nature of what happened, but to do it in full view of the public is not the decision I would have made..." --J_Kelly

"I don't know what Elizabeth Edwards wanted to accomplish with this book. There doesn't seem to be anything to it that isn't a gratuitous peek into the most sordid and painful chapters of their lives... Is this really about her overcoming an adversity that was partly self-inflicted? Her interviews make it sound like she's mostly interested in 1) punishing her husband and the 'other woman', 2) justifying her own collusion in his aborted presidential campaign and 3) offering up tidbits of this tragic situation for public consumption. And that's unfortunate." -- dbitt

By Washington Post editors  |  May 23, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Next: Wag the Blog Redux: Obama vs Cheney

Comments

There is a lot of irrelevant crap in the comments today by people who have never suffered the loss that Elizabeth Edwards has had to deal with. The idea that this will harm her children? Do you really think that they are not going to get all of the details, probably expanded versions thereof, from the other kids and people surrounding them. At least, this way, they are getting the straight version. This thinking is kind of like hoping that if you never talk to your kids about sex, they won't ever find out about it and will remain virgins, right? They will find out, but from the least reliable sources if you are not the source.
This affair, I am sure, is nigh on to insignificant to losing a child, which she also has done. Back off and let her make her decision for her family.

Posted by: potrafka | May 26, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Elizabeth has been through heartbreaking experiences-- First her illness- and then her husbands infidelity--and then harsh judgements by others just when she needed support in perhaps her last days--

The book can be a tremendous help to others who need to seek a "new reality" as she has done (and how it is explained in the book!) She has Courage!!!

Posted by: marshal2 | May 26, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Certainly EE has the right to tell her own story, her own way, but what right does she have to hurt her own children by washing all that dirty linen in public. For my part, I have the right not to read her revenge nor watch it on TV. I've had enough of this one-woman cliche. Hasn't everyone else?
Hermione

Posted by: CallmeIsmael | May 26, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Certainly EE has the right to tell her own story, her own way, but what right does she have to hurt her own children by washing all that dirty linen in public. For my part, I have the right not to read her revenge nor watch it on TV. I've had enough of this one-woman cliche. Hasn't everyone else?
Hermione

Posted by: CallmeIsmael | May 26, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Certainly EE has the ight to tell her own story, her own way, but what right does she have to hurt her own children by washing all that dirty linen in public. For my part, I have the right not to read her revenge nor watch it on TV. I've had enough of this one-woman cliche. Hasn't everyone else?
Hermione

Posted by: CallmeIsmael | May 26, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Before I heard Elizabeth Edwards discuss her book on the Larry King Show, I, like many others here, thought she was grandstanding, at best, displaying poor judgeent, at worse. After hearing her interview, I understand that her husband's infidelity is not the only adversity she discusses in the book. It is about her experience overcoming the death of her son, dealing with cancer, and how her family is going to overcome the adverse publicity and notoriety surrounding her husband's affair. She wrote a record and a road map for her husband and children to use after she is gone. As she said, she had no choice about including the latter: if she had not written about it, all interviews would have included questions about it. She chose to discuss it in the context of their commitment to the marriage and how they would weather the episode. She seems wholly focused on leaving a legacy for her children that includes compassion, strength, and courage. And I admire her for it.

Posted by: wilddove | May 26, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I think Edwards best summed up his biggest fault during one of the debates... when asked about his most awful shortcoming...

.. it related to Edwards' '..caring to much for the plight of the common man.. ' (might have been.. wanting to help too much..it was so lame, no one can remember.. HRC's was similar, BHO's was can't organize his paper clips)..
.. apparently Edwards was inclusive (as one would expect from this p.c. zealot)

Biggest Fault
..caring to much for the 'common woman'...

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 25, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

It's all about living in the fa$t lane.

Posted by: whocares666 | May 25, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

We'll see where the California Supreme Court draws the line on Tuesday.

Posted by: JakeD | May 24, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

.. we haven't mentioned 'man on dog' .. in a while now...

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 24, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Jake posted:

"Will you draw the line at polygamy?"

To which I want to write:

"Are you addressing me, sir?" :-)

If TX tried to legitimize polygamy I would oppose it even without the benefit of Reynolds, an unchallenged [although weakly reasoned] precedent.

Reynolds v. U.S [1878?] will not be overturned any time soon. But let us assume that a Utah polygamist with a happy group family provides uncontested evidence that the children are cared for and will suffer from the prosecution and imposed destruction of the family unit. Husband appeals his conviction for polygamy and the Supremes hear the appeal and vote 9-0 to reject criminal sanctions for polygamy.

I would accept that polygamy/polyandry would no longer be subject to penal sanctions. I would still oppose its general acceptance in society. The practical consequences are too numerous to count, but the nature of bridge foursomes and tontines come to mind, along with calculating social security benefits as a calculus problem, recalibrating family law to handle a 200% divorce rate, and the competing child support claims. What would the joint income tax return look like? What would this do to our southwestern system of community property?

From a sociological view, I think there is ample evidence that a committed relationship between two adults has much more chance of long term success than a threesome or a foursome. I am willing to be corrected, as the last time I read any studies of this was more than 40 years ago.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 24, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Will you draw the line at polygamy?

Posted by: JakeD | May 24, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

It's sad, but if we had another really good sex scandal.. I would even go for a double redux.. maybe triple..

And you know what.. I think we will have the big one..

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 24, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Why Why Why?
Anything for another 15-minutes in the public eye. It just goes to prove that wives are no different. Any self respecting woman from North Carolina would have thrown his clothes into the street and set his car on fire.

Posted by: pmramsey1 | May 24, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Jake, as a man who believes in the sanctity of my own marriage but who casts no such burden on anyone else's, I suspect those who really carry that kind of judgment for others never "forgave" McC his first divorce. I did not hold it against him but Nancy Reagan did. Still, I think Nancy Reagan supported McC.

You may recall that last summer I and a few others argued at least weekly that McC's children by his first marriage thought well of him and he had supported them and that was the real test of whether a divorce was a measure of a sad personal failure or whether it was a moral crisis. Others said because he began his flirtation with Cindy before his divorce it was a moral crisis.

I just cannot get around the notion that what happens between two other adults who are not
my spouse and a third person is not my business. I can get into high dudgeon about a parent who does not stay active and supportive of his [her] kids. I draw different lines than you, I think.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 24, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Mark, when the MSM got the JE story, there was no way for them not to cover it after being embarrassed by Tabloids for better investigative journalism. I also disagree that when somebody is running for the highest office in the land, their honestly(he denied it, blaming it on the right wing conspiracy)and character traits, are issues the voters need to know about. I would not have had a problem with the NY Times story if they had nailed it down. But they didn't, and the story clearly implied he was having an extra-martial affair. Why was it,they could not expend any resources to a true affair about JE?

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 24, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

mark_in_austin:

I know, for a fact, that story cost McCain votes. How could it not among voters who uphold the sanctity of marriage?

Posted by: JakeD | May 24, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Having chastised the NYT for reckless sensationalism about McC, which was speculatively retelling events it previously reported in 1999 that had occurred in 1998, I do not think the [non]story hurt McC.
-----------------------
When the MSM got on the JRE escapade it did so in time to kill any chance for JRE to serve in this Admin.
-----------------------
Honestly, there is no reason why I would expect the MSM to jump on sex stories. Leave that paparazzi-in-the-hotel stuff to the yellow journals. However, I remain easily angered by the irresponsible edge to the NYT story of 2-21-08.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 24, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

another lying, cheating lib. In a sea of power hungry socialist who want what's best for us, as long as they don't comply, another is just statistics.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | May 24, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Ddawd, the single most scurrilous piece of a non-story was the NYT article of 2-21-08. Drawn by the headline, I read an article that said, in effect, there is no evidence McC had an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. I was among thousands who protested. As a result, the NYT posted these semi-retractions:

Correction: February 26, 2008
A front-page article on Feb. 21 about Senator John McCain’s record on lobbying and ethics, including his role in the Keating Five case, described incorrectly the reprimand delivered to three other members of the Senate in 1991 for intervening with government regulators on behalf of Charles H. Keating Jr. The Senate Ethics Committee rebuked the three senators for improper behavior, but under a parliamentary agreement the full Senate did not censure them or take any other vote on the matter.

A Note to Readers: February 20, 2009
An article published on February 21, 2008, about Senator John McCain and his record as an ethics reformer who was at times blind to potential conflicts of interest included references to Vicki Iseman, a Washington lobbyist. The article did not state, and The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust.

Look at the date of the second retraction!
==================================

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 24, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

vbhoomes:

I think DDAWD is implying that no one has proven the NYT story was "false". Didn't she file a lawsuit? I haven't heard the outcome.

As to Elizabeth Edwards, maybe if she hadn't devalued the sanctity of marriage by supporting same-sex (and who knows what other types) "marriage" he wouldn't have strayed?

Posted by: JakeD | May 24, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

DDAWD where have you been, I do not have to link you something that was big news in the NY Times after McCain sown up the nomination. Pay attention, my friend.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 24, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

The shallowness and vanity of the Edwards campaign is simply perpetuated by this perverse unending media whoring. Of course Mrs. Edwards is technically "the victim", not merely because of her physical state while he behaved this way but also because his "catch me if you can" behavior was an invitation to shame and disaster. But there can be little sympathy for a "victim" who can't, or refuses to, let go of the microphone to bemoan her public humiliation. Kind of reminds me of when Madonna called a news conference to demand her privacy.

Posted by: dyinglikeflies | May 24, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad she's talking. I wish other women--and men--public figures who have been the victims of affairs, would open up too. Pehaps it would reduce the numbers of infidelities if adults understood that there are negative consequences to such behavior. Now, our society expects parties to communicate through subtext. This seems healthier.

Posted by: mclovin | May 24, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Why does anybody care about Elizabeth Edwards, or John Edwards for that matter? Relationships of politicians (& other "professionals") are often fake anyway. Why does a politicians wife who has cancer make such an inspirational, tear-jerking story when there are real people who suffer from the same disease. I must say, its odd how politicians survive cancer so much more often than the others who have it.

Posted by: juster1 | May 23, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Here's another news item the liberal Democrat Socialist--controlled MSM, and their agents on the blogs like these missed, surprise, surprise.
While they where screaming from the roof-tops with glee and ecstasy, and writing tons of columns when the special election in NY state recently went to a Democrat, there wasn't a peep from any of them on Tuesday when a Republican defeated a Democrat in a heavily Democrat registered District. Republican Jerry Knowles defeated Democrat Bill Mackey by more than 70 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania's 124th District, which includes parts of Schuykill and Berks counties.

Posted by: armpeg | May 23, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

An old pol whose name would be known to Texans but not the rest of you once told a group of us over beer [during the Carter Admin] that the formula for an affair by a man in the public eye made all women except rich married ones off limits. It was important that the woman had as much to lose from exposure as the man and that she was financially capable of following the NiMBY rule.

Hitting on staff, UT coeds, single women, divorcing women - all off limits. They would all have leverage even if they did not blab. Prostitutes would put the man in multiple jeopardy. Only married rich women were relatively safe.

This same pol reminded us of the consequences of not following his common sense rules during "Monica".

I have not seen him since this story broke, outside the presence of his wife. Now in his eighties, I am sure if he were "out with the guys", he would wag his finger once again.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 23, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't certain that the McCain affair rumors were really disproved.. I thought his aides were able to separate the two of them, prior to any dirty deed.

I wouldn't doubt that even the NYT didn't pursue this as far as they could have. Cindy made them stop or it was just too boring.. or no one cared to visualize such a tryst.

The only reason that Edwards got so much hounding was his incessant denial of the affair and his ridiculous manipulation - using his aide, as well as a contributor to keep the lid on it.. more a story of stupidity than lust. And the sheer - well this woman - I can't go on... -- the questionability of his 'taste'.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 23, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

and.. I'll bet you forgot that I always say the same thing about redux (it was lame enough the first go-round).

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 23, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"notice how the MSM did not have a problem printing an untrue story about John McCain having an affair"

Link?

Posted by: DDAWD | May 23, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I voted for John Edwards and I would do so again.. his wife asked that we vote for him, she knew about this mess. Infidelity is near universal amongst the egomaniacs of the world.

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 23, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"For about a year the MSM censored all news about John and Elizabeth Edwards"

Like what news?

waaaaaah, why does the media have to report on all the bad things that Republicans do? Can't they spend their time investigating every National Enquirer story and the goings on of a former politician who pretty much has lost all relevance?

I actually read a lot more about Elizabeth Edwards than I do about George Bush.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 23, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Good points Armpeg, notice how the MSM did not have a problem printing an untrue story about John McCain having an affair, but totally looked the other way about rumors on John Edwards. Unfortunately, the tabloids, have the only true investigative reporters on staff. I grew up reading the Washington Post, what a shame they forgot how to do investigative journalism, at least when it comes to the democrats. Remember, it took Drudge to break the Monica Lewinsky story. Newsweek had it, but spiked it to protect their own. How sad.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 23, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The issue is not the edwards and the right or wrong of Elizabeth Edwards reaction .There is one question- Did John Edwards do the right thing to have an affair with Rielle Hunter? And having done so and lied should he have on his own dropped out of the race?And
is infidelity a minor or major issue?As people with a moral compass we have choices- open marriage, no marriage, or marriage vows that promise fidelity. What each of us have to ask ourselves is will this hurt someone?? end of story!!!

Posted by: mclaire12 | May 23, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The issue is not the edwards and the right or wrong of Elizabeth Edwards reaction .There is one question- Did John Edwards do the right thing to have an affair with Rielle Hunter? And having done so and lied should he have on his own dropped out of the race?And
is infidelity a minor or major issue?As people with a moral compass we have choices- open marriage, no marriage, or marriage vows that promise fidelity. What each of us have to ask ourselves is will this hurt someone?? end of story!!!

Posted by: mclaire12 | May 23, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

About the only thing I find significant in the John and Elizabeth Edwards affair is how fast all news about John's trist suddenly disapeared from the Main Stream Media's news reports. Before the National Enquirer's outing of John Edwards cheating on his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth, John Edwards was the MSM's poster boy, who was the new wunderkind JFK of the Democat's. John was on the MSM's print and TV news every day, as the MSM was working overtime to promote him and the Democratic Parties nominees to the public to build up the votes for the party in the '08 election. Once the National Enquirers report about John Edwards came out however, all the MSM's news reporting stopped, and John hasn't been heard or seen from since, until Elizabeth's book came out. For about a year the MSM censored all news about John and Elizabeth Edwards, because to do so would have caused political fallout for the Democrats. Compare that to how that same MSM treated Sarah Palins daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Headline news every day for 6 months; cheap-shot jokes on the late night liberal talk shows; SNL's sleazy gutter-tactics to demean her and Sarah; daily MSM "reports" on her and her boyfriends life and staus, and on, and on. Can anyone still doubt that the Main Stream Media isn't totally and completely in the tank with the Democratic Party, and has become nothing more than their propaganda arm?

Posted by: armpeg | May 23, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

In all the comments I've read about EE and JE, here and in many other places, I have seen nothing at all said about what the chronic illness of one partner can do to an intimacy relationship.

This is a plea for compassion and understanding from the public. More and more, cancer is becoming a long-term illness, and when a long-term illness comes into a marriage, it affects the intimacy relationship. Why? Fatigue and other physical problems can interfere with libido. Without interactive responsiveness the intimacy relationship can wither, and the well spouse can run the risk of emotional fragility.

Accordingly, it is possible that JE may not even have realized their marriage was in danger, or recognized it too late, after the affair started.

That JE and EE are now intent on repairing their relationship is great. Support for EE as the ill spouse came from many people. The missing link was support for JE as the well spouse.

I should know, I was a well spouse for 29 years, until my wife died. I am now President of the Well Spouse Association, http://wellspouse.org, which helped me a lot. I urge friends or family of a couple dealing with chronic illness and/or disability to tell them about this resource. It's possible, had JE known about the WSA, all this might never have happened, and we would be seeing daily news of President Edwards' new administration.

Posted by: voyager60 | May 23, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It is a shame that many people comment about Mrs. Edward's book without first reading the book. The book has less than 20 pages about her husband's affair. It focuses on how she has processed, and lived through, the painful twists and turns that life takes for us all. Not everyone has been slammed with the death of a child, a cancer diagnosis, and infidelity.... but every one of us has been hit by something painful. This is a helpful and inspiring book.

Posted by: bettync | May 23, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

This narcisstic couple deserves one another, why would you publish and go on a book tour about your husbands wonderings. What about your kids, it must be hell for them going to school and taking all the ribbing and cruel humor kids are capable of. Here is a good idea, just go away, your careers are over.

Posted by: vbhoomes | May 23, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

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