Elizabeth Edwards is taking a raft of shit for her admission — prompted by her husband's admissions of infidelity, obfuscation and untruthfulness — that John Edwards admitted his liaison with Rielle Hunter to her in 2006. The shit she is taking is predicated on a number of (perhaps mistaken) assumptions that: he told her the whole truth about the length and depth of the affair — although he's admitted she didn't know about phone calls or his infamous LA tête-à-tête; that he didn't continue the affair after telling her — I have my suspicions; and that she's not just backing up his assertion about when he told her to head off the ugliest parts of the speculation — that he did it while she was being treated for cancer. Nonetheless, some women like the reliably infuriating Bonnie Fuller, would like to put a bunch of blame squarely on Elizabeth's already bowed shoulders. Way to miss the forest for the trees, lady.Fully accepting Edwards' version of the time line of events, Bonnie places the blame for his candidacy on Elizabeth:

The bigger question is "why did Elizabeth Edwards drink her husband's Kool-Aid? How could she have possibly believed that her husbands affair would remain a private matter when he was running for President of the United States? Hello, the National Enquirer had already broken the story last fall. Why in fact, did she knowingly encourage her spouse to even enter the campaign when she had been fully informed about the affair for over a year? And she helped support and propagate John Edwards' image as a devoted husband and family man.

Actually, let's dispense with the problem with Bonnie's facts first. John and Elizabeth say that she was told "sometime" in 2006; Edwards threw his hat in the ring on December 28, 2006 (the same week Rielle Hunter was quoted talking about her documentaries in Newsweek). Elizabeth was, however, no where to be seen in any of the photographs or press reports. The first documented incidence I can find of them together was on January 14, 2007 when Edwards gave a speech for MLK Day, followed by a campaign event on January 20, 2007 — more than a month after the official announcement (and long after the decision had been made). Frankly, at the point at which John Edwards was contracting with Rielle Hunter to make documentaries of him in Summer 2006 — mistress or not — the decision for him to run for President had obviously long been made. So, she'd hardly been "fully informed about the affair for over a year" when she encouraged him to run — assuming, in fact, that' she's "fully" informed now. That aside, there are plenty of reasons Elizabeth might well have assumed John's indiscretion might never come out. Anyone in Washington can tell you that plenty of men cheat on their wives in this town and no one ever says a word. If John told her, as it seems he is telling us, that he had a "brief" indiscretion with a staffer, that's a lot different than a long-term torrid affair and far less likely to become public. Elizabeth, by all accounts, has sacrificed a lot for John's political career and is as committed to his political goals (poverty eradication, universal health care, etc.) as he is. So maybe once she got over her grief and anger, once she made the decision to stay with him, maybe she convinced herself that no one else would ever have to know about her humiliation. Goodness knows that's not the first time that such a thing has come to pass. And looking at the race, and her husband and her political ideals, maybe it wasn't such a stretch to believe that a one-night stand wouldn't make the papers. Most politicians' don't. The second point to consider is whether his indiscretions make him a bad father (in Fuller-speak, "family man"). Not that I wouldn't rage to the high heavens if I discovered my father had been unfaithful to my mother, but that would have almost no bearing on whether he was a good father to me or not. That's not to say whether John Edwards is or not — he might well not be and, if Rielle's child is his, I would guess that the general consensus would be he's not — but what he did or did not do with his penis on the side aren't the determining factor in that by a long shot. Fuller's main point is this:

Well, she may not want to admit it but Elizabeth is as guilty as her husband at this point, in inviting the public into her family's personal life.


What evidence Fuller has for that is unclear. Because she stood by his side? Because she did what you do when your spouse is running for office? Standing next to him at a rally, or giving a speech, or sitting for an interview is tantamount to letting the press into your bedroom or the inner workings of your marriage? While I have no doubt that Fuller, the former editor of Star Magazine and US Weekly, repeated that to herself in the mirror every morning before heading to the office to scroll through paparazzi photographs to use in her next poorly-sourced, sometimes mean-spirited celebrity-gossip-filled issue, that doesn't make it, you know, actually true. I don't want Bonnie Fuller's minions in my closet at night any more than I want George Bush's. Basically, Elizabeth Edwards forgave her husband and, by her own admission, wanted to be spared public humiliation so she didn't run through the streets telling everyone her husband had an affair. She began to try to make her own peace with it in her own way, and at the same time recognized that, in terms of policy issues, she still thought her husband was the best candidate for President and supported him. How terrible of her. While I disagree with her assertion that her husband's actions in the affair — especially given the timing, the money he paid Rielle to work for him, the kid, the shady antics involved in paying both her and Andrew Young to leave North Carolina and the possibility that he has continued to lie about it — should not be subject to public scrutiny, I don't think she bears any responsibility for his actions or her desire and willingness to continue to support him. He is the villain here, at least in terms of his marriage and the affair and its effect on his political career — not her. And slapping blame on her for convincing herself that her private humiliation might remain private is just ugly and unwarranted. Today [Daily Kos] Elizabeth Edwards Drank Her Husband's Kool-Aid And Became His "Ambition Enabler" [HuffPo] Politics 2008: John Edwards, Untucked [Newsweek]