His 'N Hers John & Elizabeth Edwards Profiles: Not Created Equal

Illustration for article titled His 'N Hers John & Elizabeth Edwards Profiles: Not Created Equal

Conde Nast's Vogue empire is notoriously micromanaged by Anna Wintour, so it did not surprise us that John and Elizabeth Edwards were profiled extensively in the July issues of Men's Vogue and Vogue, respectively, though Elizabeth did not get the cover, presumably because she is not as pretty as her husband. And speaking of pretty, how about those controversial haircuts? Well according to Elizabeth in Vogue:

[Elizabeth] says she has no intention of apologizing... for her husband's $400 haircuts. "The truth is we didn't know how much it was, and we didn't know that it was being charged to the campaign."


Which is sort of weird, because as Men's Vogue points out, Beverly Hills stylist Joseph Torrenueva "has already said that Edwards is a 'longtime client'—it's not accident that he got a $400 haircut; he just got busted," and as Edwards himself said during a public appearance:

"It's a ridiculous amount of money for a haircut. I'm actually embarrassed by it.

Eh, we're saving our embarrassment for Vogue writer Julia Reed, who not only spares readers any insight into Elizabeth Edwards' cancer but censors some more egregious details of the Edwardses profligacy: On that $6 million monstrosity in North Carolina that the Edwardses just erected, what Men's Vogue sees as a liability with less-privileged voters, Vogue sees as... a perfectly understandable upgrade! According to Vogue:

Their first home in the area, after all, was a dingy unit in a planned development

P.S., 'dingy' just sold for $1.465 million!

[Elizabeth Edwards] designed this one herself with the help of an architect ("I drew the first plan, he drew the second; I drew the third, he drew the fourth") toward the end of her chemo and radiation. It was so big, she says, because she was determined to build John a basketball court, housed in a huge red "barn" along with racketball courts and a pool. "You grow up in North Carolina and basketball is it," she says....


Which is why the pick-up games get so crowded you need your OWN COURT! As John tells Vogue:

"People think we live in this really fancy, gaudy place... but it's really down-to-earth." It's a description that is not entirely spin. The main house is almost 11,000 square feet, surrounded by deep porches and anchored by a light-filled central great room with an enormous stone fireplace (modeled after one they saw at a lodge at the Grand Canyon), wide heart-pine floors and beams and some of the biggest TVs I've ever seen. It's an impressive space but entirely unpretentious and eminently livable.


Big TVs = unpretentious! Over at Men's Vogue, meanwhile, we learn about a few amenities Julia Reed forgot!

Fairly or not, to critics and many locals, Edwards's new estate—a 28,200-square-foot, $6 million affair a few miles outside of Chapel Hill—has become a potent symbol of hypocrisy when placed against his political message of personal sacrifice, environmental conservation, and economic division. Top aides were furious that the Edwardses decided to build it just as they were launching the campaign. Elizabeth has said she has no regrets; she worked closely with an architect to design the house, down to the wide-plank pine floors and soapstone fireplace. (It also has a 1,762-square-foot room called "John's Lounge," two performance stages, a pool, and basketball and squash courts.)


We learn some other stuff in Men's Vogue that Vogue doesn't tell us, like that John Edwards rarely voted before running for office, that his father is a Republican and that he's kind of a huge phony! Also, Elizabeth = pretty important to the Edwards campaign!

At 58, Elizabeth is more than Edwards's wife. She's the core of his political life. The two met in the early seventies at the University of North Carolina law school, where Elizabeth, the sophisticated, well-read daughter of a naval officer stationed overseas, was seen by classmates as much more likely to succeed than her husband. "I think she helped shape him politically," Shrum says. "She is a progressive, and I think he was much less political when he started out."...As Edwards's key political adviser, Elizabeth is a major force behind the scenes, micromanaging details down to which tie he will wear and how he should respond to press questions. When Kerry joked during the 2004 primary campaign that Edwards was still in diapers while he was fighting in Vietnam, Elizabeth suggested heavy retaliation. (Her husband talked her out of it.) According to a former campaign staffer, she once dressed down an aide who questioned Edwards's judgment during a campaign meeting and fired three traveling chiefs of staff in a matter of a few weeks. It was she who pushed for a more sophisticated Web presence for the 2008 campaign, including the hiring of two bloggers who quit after coming under fire for their comments about religion.


Not that she really likes to cop to any of that.

"I just do mom things," she says of her official campaign duties. "John was home for several days, so I tried to cook the things he liked and stuff like that." I thought she might tell me her secret chicken-fried-steak recipe, but when pressed, she has a hard time remembering exactly what she cooked for him.


So basically, Vogue sorta swallowed the Edwards campaign PR jizz, while Men's Vogue wrote a thoughtful story that painted a nuanced portrait of a charismatic but ultimately unconvincing candidate for president? Or is it just because men perceive conspicuous consumption differently from the gender that has been inured to it at the hands of Anna Wintour? What about you kill us either way?

John Edwards: Getting Real [Men's Vogue]
Earlier: There Are Dumber Things To Read This Weekend But At Least Baldo Has A 10 Percent Chance Of Being Funny



Ever met any of these Vogue people, as in broken bread with them? To be in a roomful of them is to recapture that feeling before junior high cheerleader try-outs. They're not especially evil, just opportunistic, self-important and silly. The ones I've met seem to be regular little people in various stages of puffing into big people. They're successful not necessarily because they're more talented but because they've won allies (through favorable interviews/reviews) and cut down challengers (journalistic bushwhacking). As writers and editors they work diligently to manufacture the exclusivity that propels them upward and keeps their artificial world floating. Vogue throws a few pseudo-serious articles between the fluff and ads, allowing shallow women to claim they read the rag for its cultural content— like a guy says he subscribes to Penthouse for the book reviews. Is Vogue bad? No way! It is what it is: an on-going record of American fantasy. Nobody does what Vogue does better than Vogue. You want reality? Open your back door, look, and listen. You want political information? Look up who finances campaigns and check the Congressional Record. If we do anything less we're no better than the airheads that believe the Vogue nonsense.