In this brave new world, not selling one's sex tape is, apparently, tantamount to a laudable achievement. Or at least a piece in Newsweek titled, "The Quiet Dignity of Rielle Hunter."

What at first appears to maybe be tongue-in-cheek - Newsweek, after all, published a rather comprehensive expose of Hunter's "kookiness," fixation on Edwards and general visibility during the campaign - is, instead, deadly serious. Says the once-critical Jonathan Darman, "For two years, she has behaved with more public dignity than any other figure in the Edwards scandal. In fact, she acted with more discipline and discretion than any mistress in the recent history of sex scandals." Talk about damned by faint praise. In a world where getting divorced makes one "intriguing" and the worst that can happen to one's reputation is generally nothing that a good publicist, an appearance on Oprah and a few months can't palliate, it probably makes sense that not actually selling an extant sex tape would qualify as a major act of nearly old-fashioned demureness.

We've read a lot in recent days about Salinger's reclusiveness burnishing his image, and as if we needed proof positive of the power of no, here's Darman's peculiar paeon: Hunter, he says,

gained the certainty that keeping quiet was the best way to go. Maybe it was motherhood. Maybe it was seeing that being a celebrity wasn't all it's cracked up to be. Or maybe it was a tranquility that was there all along, a patient determination to keep her head down and follow a quiet path with lawyers and the father of her child.

The whole tone of the piece seems to be: we expected worse! Low expectations in 2010!

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Hunter is, by the by, now disputing the validity of the notorious preggers-sex tape, claiming that the dates don't match up and declaring, in a written affidavit, "It is horrifying to me that my privacy has been so invaded, even more so because it was part of an effort by the Youngs to make money." While the whole affair - not least the Uriah Heap-like Young - are sordid and icky in the extreme, there's something slightly disingenuous about assuming there will be any secrecy surrounding an affair with a publicly Very Married man who was already Publicly Famous when you met him, and whose public persona was indeed the impetus for the meeting in the first place. My mom often told me, when I was little and would declare defensively that someone else had done even worse on a math test, to compete, if I must, with the strongest rather than the weakest student. I've debated the wisdom of this, but Darman's opposite approach doesn't seem to bode well for anybody. That we haven't had any more damning revelations or self-expositions in this sordid web is, I guess, something to be mildly grateful for; I hope we have better things to celebrate. As the author says, weirdly, "character comes out in a sex scandal." Do we not have any other ways of testing it?


The Quiet Dignity Of Rielle Hunter [Newsweek]
John Edwards' Former Mistress Continues To Seek Possession Of Alleged Sex Tape [ET]