In January of 2010, just a few months before my own teenage son died – something I obviously had no idea was about to happen – I wrote a blog post about my great admiration for Elizabeth Edwards, who has since that time passed away. I wrote of my appreciation for the graceful way she had conducted her life – publicly and privately – after losing her own beloved teenage boy, and further, in the same blog post, I expressed disgust for the way some in the media had started to turn on Elizabeth Edwards once they learned she was not a superhuman saint, but a real woman with real emotions, moments of loss of control, and internal struggles.
I was stunned and touched when Elizabeth Edwards herself left a comment on my post about her, thanking me for what I’d written. And yep, I know for certain it was indeed she who left this kind comment on my blog.
I feel like I “get” Elizabeth Edwards to the extent anyone can ever get someone they know only through their public lives. I believe I understand her civic and personal priorities and values because I share many of them. I wish she had run for public office.
But I don’t “get” Rielle Hunter, and maybe that’s why I find myself perversely fascinated by her own public behavior and statements – almost in the same way I am sometimes fascinated by watching dangerous wild animals held in captivity at the zoo. I watch them pace their enclosures and wonder what they’re really thinking, and what they would do if set free to do what they would really prefer to be doing. It’s a sort of “get close to danger without getting eaten by the tiger” voyeurism on my part.
And this admittedly somewhat embarrassing interest in what makes Ms. Hunter tick, and in the dynamics behind the unusual but obviously powerful relationship she seems to still be having with John Edwards led me to watch the entirety of her hour long, sit down interview with ABC’s Chris Cuomo last night.
At one point in the interview, Cuomo asked Hunter, “What do you think the reaction is when the woman who’s sleeping with the husband starts talking about the wife who is now dead from cancer?”
And she responded, “There’re a lot of people that’ll go, ‘Wow, I understand. I get it.’ And then a lot of people will be outraged.”
I’ve already admitted that I very much do NOT “get it.” What drives Rielle Hunter to continue to trashtalk Elizabeth Edwards on national TV? To humiliate Ms. Edwards surviving young adult daughter and two younger children still only in middle school by going on “The View” this week to discuss the specific details of her sex life with their father from a time when he was still married to their now-dead mother?
And I’m not asking this in a rhetorical way, but instead in a thoroughly practical sense; I just don’t get what’s driving her now. I mean, why do this? She got everything she wanted. Elizabeth Edwards is gone, and Ms. Hunter and John Edwards are obviously still a couple. Additionally, Ms. Hunter and her daughter live in a lovely home and are now very financially secure for life, so she didn’t need whatever relatively paltry amount BenBella Books paid her in a book advance. Ms. Hunter will never have to work again in her life, thanks to her relationship with John Edwards, who together with his wife of 30 years, Elizabeth had amassed a small fortune by practicing law in the years before he entered politics – money Ms. Hunter will now be able to enjoy for as long as she likes.
Does Ms. Hunter believe that speaking publicly like this at this point will ever in any way allow her to have a relationship with John Edwards’ three oldest children, or will facilitate the opportunity for her own 4 year old daughter to ever have one with her two big sisters and one brother? Or is Ms. Hunter actually attempting to slyly triangulate by proactively continuing to radically offend Elizabeth Edwards’ children in an attempt to separate John Edwards from his other kids simply because she hated their mother so much? Making him continually choose between her and their young daughter, whom he surely loves, and his other three children, whom he also loves, and who no longer have any other parent?
I just have no idea. I find Rielle Hunter an enigma. I understand the affair; as exceptionally heartbreaking as this particular adultery story was for those left in its wake, marital infidelity is a story as old as time. So I at least get that part. But what the heck is motivating Rielle Hunter’s behavior now?
So that’s my question for discussion today: whither Rielle Hunter? What makes her tick? Have you known someone like her? Are you able to identify with her? Are you one of the people whom she told Chris Cuomo will “get it,” and if so, will you explain it to me in the comments below?
And I also hope that each of you will take just a moment right now to become a friend of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation on Facebook.
READ MORE FROM KATIE OVER AT MAMAPUNDIT (HER PERSONAL BLOG)