Last night I read the New York Magazine article which excerpts portions of the new book, Game Change, about John and Elizabeth Edwards. If you have heard the hype about it, trust me, the story is every bit as sensational (in a tabloid sort of way) as what you have heard. It is a sad, strange tale, but also fascinating.
You really have to read it to believe it. Or to not believe it. A lot of the story sounds plausible and jibes with bits and pieces that have been reported elsewhere over the past couple of years, but since I question the truthfulness of some of the excerpts from the book regarding Sarah Palin, I have to likewise consider that everything in the Edwards story might not be true. But geez, if only a tiny fraction of the story is true, this country came close to having someone in the White House with a bigger ego than Bill Clinton and Barack Obama combined. Not just the “I feel pretty” John Edwards ego we saw on public display in the campaign, but something much more “cuckoo pants” (as Lori Ziganto put it) than anyone could have known. Anyone outside of his campaign that is.
If the accounts are anywhere close to accurate, Edwards was delusional and reckless when it came to the affair he was having,and the effect it was having on his family and his campaign. What I found really interesting were the behind the scenes stories about how the staff reacted to the behavior they saw from Edwards. They saw this recklessness. They knew that if he did get the nomination he would likely have this big Rielle Hunter bomb explode in the general election. So they had to struggle not only with the decision of whether or not they would alert the public that this man had no business anywhere near the White House, but also whether or not they would warn the Democratic Party that if this man won the nomination they would be handing the GOP a victory.
Stories about staffers and consultants thinking Edwards was crazy and a lightweight empty suit and an ego maniac have been heard before from people like Bob Shrum, but this book deals with the affair and its aftermath and goes into detail that has never before been revealed. Getting a lot of attention is the depiction of Elizabeth Edwards in the article. The difference between the stories in the book about Elizabeth Edwards are in stark contrast to her public image. Actually “stark” does not quite cover it. Here is one excerpt.
With her husband, she could be intensely affectionate or brutally dismissive. At times subtly, at times blatantly, she was forever letting John know that she regarded him as her intellectual inferior. She called her spouse a “hick” in front of other people and derided his parents as rednecks. One time, when a friend asked if John had read a certain book, Elizabeth burst out laughing. “Oh, he doesn’t read books,” she said. “I’m the one who reads books.”
That was one of the nicer things said about Elizabeth Edwards in this piece. Seriously, it was. Some other passages, though, made me feel sorry for her as she was humiliated by the stupid behavior of her self-obsessed husband and the mistress he insisted accompany him on so many campaign events.
This is really nasty stuff, but it is absolutely fascinating to see that difference between what the public sees and what staffers see and it is interesting to see what those supporting horribly flawed candidates do to protect them.
If you think these new revelations are interesting, there is more to come. Andrew Young, the man who first claimed Rielle Hunter’s baby was his, has a tell all book coming out soon. I didn’t say it because I thought it was beyond obvious, but just in case anyone still has any doubt, John Edwards will not recover from this. I thought he was toast a long time before the affair stuff came out anyway. That 28,000 square foot mansion, the multi-million dollar beach house, and the $400 plus haircuts do not sit well with voters, especially when coming from a candidate basing his campaign on the issue of poverty. Affairs are something candidates can recover from, but all the stuff swirling around this affair, the treatment of those around him, and all the other stuff that was there before the affair is just too much. John Edwards is now officially in the OJ category. There is no PR machine that can rehabilitate this guy now.