The XX Factor

Edwards On the Couch

What struck me most, Kerry, about Elizabeth Edwards interview with Oprah was her repeated insistence John’s possible child with Rielle Hunter is irrelevant. She told Oprah that she doesn’t know if the baby is John’s (She also said John didn’t know if the baby was John’s, which reminds me of Emily’s post wondering why, if Elizabeth Edwards has such an infallible bullshit detector , she’s married to this dissembler in the first place) and that it doesn’t matter. Here’s a quote of her talking about the child, always an “it”, at length:

“It doesn’t make any difference to me [if Hunter’s son is John’s]. If I have to analyze why that should make a difference to me [it would only be because] I care about something completely extraneous to my life. That is not my life. And if we were to discover it was, that would be part of John’s life, but it is not part of mine. And I cant see any upside to making it part of my life. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change anything. It’s not going to change my life in any way. I could try to make it change my life and could keep myself up about if I thought he was trying to start a family with this woman. That would be one thing, but I do I not think that’s true. I do not by any stretch of the imagination think that’s true. And therefore, it doesn’t have any effect on me. Part of resilience is deciding to make yourself miserable about something that matters, or deciding to make yourself miserable over something that doesn’t matter.”

And her children’s possible half sibling is something that doesn’t matter? And can something, a something that’s really a son, be “part” of John’s life without being a part of hers? Does saying something won’t change anything over and over make it true?

I found this exchange even more blinkered in the context of the entire interview, during which Edwards seemed, as she usually does, remarkably open, likeable, thoughtful, and authentic -as Hanna pointed out, her key trait. (In an age of disappearing privacy , it’s worth remembering that we’re not all equally equipped to kill our private lives . Some people, Edwards and Oprah among them, are better able to totally explode the distinction between their public and private lives by virtue of being more natural, comfortable, and open at television and publicity than the rest of us).

But on this subject, her husband’s probable kid, Edwards seems willfully unthoughtful, as if she has artificially cordoned off one of the more painful aspects of her husband’s philandering and decided that her ability not to think or feel about it means it doesn’t warrant thoughts of feelings. I wonder if there will be another book that comes after Resilience , like Acceptance (or maybe Divorce ).