Terrance Heath

Quiet? Yes. Dignity? No.

Filed By Terrance Heath | February 25, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Andrew Young, Dignity Catholics, Elizabeth Edwards, John Edwards, Rielle Hunter, sex tape, The Politician

OK. I wasn’t going to say anything else about the John Edwards mess. It’s gotten sordid past the point of rubbernecking, even. I just want to look away. But after reading this piece about the “quiet dignity of Rielle Hunter,” I do have something to say.

A small sampling of some of the things other people have said about Rielle Hunter in the two years since allegations first emerged that she was sleeping with married presidential candidate John Edwards.

John Edwards, as described by former aide Andrew Young in Young’s book The Politician: “Since she was ‘a crazy slut’ and they had an ‘open’ relationship, he thought there was only a ‘one-in-three chance’ that he could be the father of her baby.”

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards, in her book Resilience: “I have come to understand his liaison with this woman ... Those with any fame or notoriety or power attract people for good reasons and bad ... They flatter and entreat, and it is engaging, even addictive. They look at our lives, which from the outside in particular are pictures of joy and plenty, and they want it for themselves.”

Andrew Young in The Politician: “Rielle was a very demanding and self-absorbed person who focused intently on her social life and fashion. If we prepared a salad for dinner and set it on the counter, she’d come in and start eating it with her hands.”

Now a sampling of the things that Rielle Hunter has said publicly in those two years, outside of prepared statements from her attorneys and court affidavits:


OK. I kept going back to the excerpt from Andrew Young’s book, about Hunter making herself at home in the Edwards’ home, while Elizabeth was out on a book tour.

That evening, we ate take-out ribs from a place called Nantucket Grill and sat on the senator’s back porch, a huge space covered by a sturdy roof. The group included me, the nanny, Heather, and her husband, Jed, the senator, his kids, and Rielle, who talked excitedly about everything from national politics to astrology. She said she had been a spiritual teacher and that she believed the future was foretold by the stars. Rielle took great pleasure in noting that John Edwards’s future was limitless, and every once in a while she punctuated her observations about him with a laugh and the line “It’s good to be king.”

As the wine flowed and Heather put the kids to bed, the senator and Rielle became more comfortable touching each other and dropped the pretense that they weren’t involved. At one point, they started musing about how the house seemed like a happy place with Elizabeth and her “negative energy” removed. Rielle talked about living in the mansion once Mrs. Edwards was out of the way. A new family would be formed, the senator said, after he and Rielle married on some rooftop in Manhattan with a celebration that would include music from Dave Matthews. As Rielle listened to the senator spin this fantasy, she smiled like a little kid who had gotten her way.

As the night wore on, clouds rolled in, followed by thunder and lightning and the heaviest rain I had ever seen. Protected and dry under the roof, we watched the water come down in sheets, and in a quiet moment the senator said, “This is the way it should be — no stress, no fighting.”

“It’s good to be king,” said Rielle.

…The next time I spoke to Rielle, she happily told me that she had spent that night in the Edwardses’ bed and slept in while the senator made breakfast for the kids and then drove them to school. She said that when he returned, he got into bed and they “made love.”

Not to mention making a sex tape and then not having the sense to completely destroy it.

In his new tell-all book, The Politician, Andrew Young claims to have discovered a sex tape recorded by John Edwards and his mistress, Rielle Hunter, in a box of trash. Although Hunter apparently tried to dismantle the video by pulling the tape out of the cassette, Young was able to restore it and view the footage with his wife. How do you destroy a sex tape so that it actually stays destroyed?

Burn it, crush it, or shred it. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, there are three levels of media sanitization: clearing, purging, and destroying. “Clearing” refers to any technique that protects against retrieval via simple data recovery programs--like overwriting. “Purging” guards against a laboratory attack by trained professionals with sophisticated equipment. “Degaussing” (more on that below) is an example of “purging.” Actual physical destruction of the device is the most secure approach. Options include incineration, shredding, disintegrating, and pulverizing--any tactic that reduces the data storage device to tiny, unreadable pieces. Burning is the simplest method.

Hunter documented her encounter with Edwards on a MiniDV cassette--a fairly outdated magnetic-tape technology. To remove all digital evidence of her dalliance, she should have burned it, preferably in a licensed incineration facility. If she wanted to keep it as a memento, Hunter should have wiped out all the footage with a “degausser”--an instrument that disrupts and realigns the tape’s magnetic domains, scrambling the encoded information and rendering it permanently unreadable. This method isn’t cheap, though: A government-certified degausser costs thousands of dollars, and bargain-basement versions are unreliable.

If any of that is true, any of it at all, I can’t blame Hunter for keeping quiet. Keeping her mouth shut might well be the smartest move she could make. After all, whether Edwards actually marries her or not she stands to get at least child support out of the bargain, especially if she makes no waves.

Plus, to borrow a phrase, it’s better to be silent and have people question your motives, morals, and mental state than to speak and remove all doubt.

So, Rielle Hunter has been quiet. Good for her. Possibly her smartest move yet.

Say what you will about Elizabeth Edwards. Having endured this slo-mo public humiliation, and probably having endured years of similar private humiliations in the course of her marriage — in which she’d invested 30+ years, and which had endured the loss of a child and the first cancer diagnosis — I’ll cut her some slack if she was angry, emotional, etc.

Who wouldn’t raise unholy hell under the circumstances? Who would be able to maintain a serene, saint-like composure at all times, with their dignity under public assault?

But starting an affair with a married man? Continuing the affair when his wife is diagnosed with terminal cancer? Having a baby with the same married man? Screwing him in home and bed he still shares with his dying wife?

There’s no dignity in that. None at all. And if I’d done all the above, I hope at least I’d have the sense to keep quiet about it.

So, Rielle Hunter has been quiet in the aftermath of the affair with Edwards. Good for her. If nothing else, I’m grateful she’s not adding to the steady stream of mind-numbing disclosures.

But dignity? It’s a little late for that.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Srry, but I cant quite make the same rush to judgment. The Edwards' marriage, from what I can see, wasnt exactly a blessed holy union on either side. John and Elizabeth were (and no doubt still are) folks who aproached marriage as a business deal, not something done out of love.

Yes, we all want to see Elizabeth as the victim and John as the cad -- but having been the child of a marriage that went south in much the same way, there's always more to the story than we might want to think.

I do feel sorry for Hunter. I'm not surprised she kept the disk; IMHO I think she actually loved the guy -- despite Young's rather tart little description to the contrary. But what was the disk doing in Andrew Young's hands anyway? How did he get it -- and, more importantly, why? Because it sure looks like he got it to create a little blackmail edge over Hunter and Edwards.

Remember: as you yourself point out, while everyone else has been taking turns at the slag heap, she's been out of the spotlight. She's not said anything against John or Elizabeth or even Andrew -- even though I would be sorely tempted to rip all of them a new one. Out of everyone in this made-for-TV mess, she is indeed the only one showing class.

Sorry Sean, but I agree with Terrance. It does not matter whether John and Elizabeth Edwards were happily married or not. The only status that should have mattered to anyone involved here is the fact that they WERE married. If it's that bad, get a divorce and go do your thing with whoever you want to screw around with.

I was an Edwards supporter, but what he did was wrong, wrong, wrong, and the fact that Hunter has kept quiet lately does not denote dignity. Behaving with a modicum of dignity would have been to not get involved with a married man.

Okay, I'm gonna take issue on this, sorry.

We just had a discussion about monogamy in committed couples over at JMG, based on the numbers given out in a study that roughly half of gay couples are in open relationships. No stats were given about straight couples, but I have little doubt that the numbers for those are probably close to the same.

In other words, monogamy just aint all that anymore. We just dont seem to care. Hollywood stars screw around on each other, and we dont even bat an eyelash. Our own friends do it, and we seem to just say, "Okay, so? Was she/he any good?"

But then we get something like this, and suddenly we're looking at these people to have a higher moral standard... even though we know they wont. Newt and John McCain both pulled fast ones on their first wives, and no one really seems to care... unless it's to gain a few political points.

And let's face it, whether you're an Edwards supporter or not (which I wasnt, incidently), that's what it really came down to. The man's political ideas took the backseat because everyone was afraid of another Clinton mess... even though he was far from the first to get a little nookie in the Oval Office. Everyone was more than ready to talk about Edwards, but not McCain's little adventures... which too was a marriage of business convenience, not love. It's just another case, as far as I'm concerned, of "do as I say, not as I do".

If we're gonna trash Edwards, then let's do it with clean hands, okay? And if we're gonna revile Hunter, let's do it with an honest look in the mirror first.

K, who wants to see that sex tape? $5 says that when it gets out Bil will post it here on TBP.

Hear that, Bil? I'm on to your game.

Uh, Alex, you know that Bil would go with the Neil Patrick Harris sex tape first.

Hell, it doen't even have to be a sex tape as long as it's Neil Patrick Harris...

I guess that I'm somewhere in between the two polarities that have been established here. Elizabeth Edwards has the papers, she is the wife, if she loves him, fine, if it's for convenience, well that's fine too.

But apparently Elizabeth was willing to go along with this charade if her husband was to wind up being President. And given what we now know, I'm not sure I feel too comfortable about that.

All in all, just a hot mess (which means I come out more on Sean's side?)

Rielle Hunter is an opportunistic whore. Elizabeth might not be perfect, but she was John's wife. She is the only one who had claim to him. Period. Straight people are so immoral.