Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards Revisited

Standing in the supermarket checkout line the other day, I noticed the face of Elizabeth Edwards on the cover of the latest issue of "People" magazine. The accompanying headline asked something along the lines of "how much more can she take?".

It suddenly dawned on me that over the course of the past few months she'd had to contend with two books (Halperin & Heilemann's "Game Change" and Andrew Young's "The Politician"), national headlines announcing that she and her husband John had separated, and, most recently, her husband's mistress lasciviously posed in the pages of "GQ" while psychobabbling inanities. How much more indeed?

Much of the media attention mentioned above has painted Elizabeth in an unfavorable light, as if they--or any of us, for that matter--can possibly know what it's been like to walk in her shoes...to lose a child, to fight the battle with cancer once, only to learn that it had returned, and was terminal. Finally, Elizabeth Edwards has had to deal with a very public betrayal by her partner in marriage for over thirty years, with every detail and scene played out in public. Perhaps, as some of the stories mention, she was ambitious. God forbid we're still dealing with the absurd resentments and recriminations that ambitious and intelligent women have faced throughout our history! Perhaps she's had her moments of anger, and even paranoia. It would seem, in looking back at the 'big picture', that she wouldn't be human if she hadn't experienced both. I suspect the devious and hurtful actions of John Edwards and Rielle Hunter might even break the spirit of a saint, let alone a mere mortal.

I once supported John Edwards, and believed his populist agenda was genuine. The fact that he has so thoroughly disgraced himself does not mean that the issues or causes he once championed were without merit, however. Now, quite frankly, I tend to believe that Elizabeth was the more thoughtful, and progressive, of the two. It certainly appears she was more of a policy "wonk" than John. So, if at any point she feels the desire to speak out on those issues again, I would hope she realizes the podium remains available, and her voice is still respected. The choice, of course, needs to be hers.

In the meantime, for her sake, I wish her restorative quiet time, and inner peace.

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