Elizabeth Edwards Talks Directly About John's Affair, Many Lies

The first full excerpt of Elizabeth Edwards' book Resilience is out in Time magazine. Short version: Elizabeth wasn't intimidated by Rielle Hunter's threats to be mean to her, and John Edwards is a big liar.

I don't want to say, "I told you so," but I did suggest, the day the affair broke, that John hadn't told Elizabeth the whole truth. She backs up my assertions.

The next morning he told me why, or told me a version of why. He had made a terrible decision and had been with the woman. After I cried and screamed, I went to the bathroom and threw up.

And the next day John and I spoke. He wasn't coy, but it turned out he wasn't forthright either. A single night and since then remorse, was what he said. There were other opportunities, he admitted, but on only one night had he violated his vows to me.

That, she learned later, was untrue.

Like most wives - or husbands - in my position, I wanted to believe his involvement with this woman had been as little as possible. A single night, another opportunity, but that was it and he had wanted away from her.... It turned out that a single time was not all it was. More than a year later, I learned that he had allowed [the woman] into our lives and had not, even when he knew better, made her leave us alone.

I'm saddened to think what she means by saying that John let Rielle "into our lives," because it doesn't sound like she's just talking about the affair.

If you'll recall, Elizabeth took a lot of heat for "allowing" John to continue campaigning — heat that I thought was ugly and unwarranted, in part because I figured he probably hadn't ever really told her the full truth of the situation. Elizabeth finally responds to those criticisms, too.

So much has happened that it is sometimes hard for me to gather my feelings from that moment. I felt that the ground underneath me had been pulled away. I wanted him to drop out of the race, protect our family from this woman, from his act. It would only raise questions, he said, he had just gotten in the race; the most pointed questions would come if he dropped out days after he had gotten in the race. And I knew that was right, but I was afraid of her. And now he knows I was right to be afraid, that once he had made this dreadful mistake, he should not have run. But just then he was doing, I believe, what I was trying to do: hold on to our lives despite this awful error in judgment.

In other words, he told her about the affair two days after his formal announcement — not before, and then pressured her to continue despite her misgivings while she was vulnerable.

The worst you can say about Elizabeth is that she's no fan of Rielle Hunter and is rather unimpressed by her husband's choice of mistresses.

It didn't occur to me that at a fancy hotel in New York, where he sat with a potential donor to his antipoverty work, he would be targeted by a woman who would confirm that the man at the table was John Edwards and then would wait for him outside the hotel hours later when he returned from a dinner, wait with the come-on line "You are so hot" and an idea that she should travel with him and make videos. And if you had asked me to wager that house we were building on whether my husband of then 28 years would have responded to a come-on line like that, I would have said no.

Lest you think that Elizabeth is being less than charitable, that's about how Rielle Hunter described their meeting to Newsweek just before John told Elizabeth about the affair.

Elizabeth goes on to suggest that Hunter is a moocher and a hanger-on.

In months of talking with him, I have come to understand his liaison with this woman, if I have, not as a substitute for me. Those with any fame or notoriety or power attract people for good reasons and bad. Some want to contribute and some want to take something away for themselves. 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.

Which, as the cuckolded wife in this scenario, is an understandable way to feel about the woman who, by all accounts, pursued and had an affair with her husband. But Hunter's own friends — and even the New York Postdescribed her in a similar manner in early 2008.

The New Age hippie, who friends say "mooches off other people and sleeps on their couches because she doesn't believe in money," tells anyone who will listen about her fling with the good-looking guy. She recently walked up to a Page Six pal she'd just met and said, "Oh, I'm so stressed out. I've been having an affair with [a candidate]."

And with the reports that Edwards' finance chairman, Fred Baron, bankrolled her move to the West Coast and her lifestyle there until his death, that might not be terribly far from the truth.

As much as I enjoy a good salacious political scandal, I do have to ask: can we go back to talking about health care reform really soon? Because, honestly, the latter is more important.

Elizabeth Edwards: How I Survived John's Affair [Time]

Related: John Edwards, Untucked [Newsweek]
Just Asking [Page Six]
Dallas Lawyer Fred Baron Paid For Edwards' Mistress To Relocate [Dallas Morning News]

Earlier: Elizabeth Edwards' Resilience And Rielle Hunter's Revenge
John Edwards Always Knew He Would Disappoint Women
Hey Ladies, Lay Off Elizabeth Edwards (And That Means You, Bonnie Fuller)
Elizabeth Edwards: "I Think We Have The Capacity With Great Leadership To Change Things"
Elizabeth Edwards Talks About Issues Unrelated To Infidelity