The XX Factor

Elizabeth Edwards, Monster

Game Change , the new dishy book about the 2008 campaign, contains an incredibly disturbing portrait of John and Elizabeth Edwards, excerpted in New York magazine . The surprise revelation about him is that his staff considered him virtually “asexual.” Rielle Hunter, his mistress, got to him not through his vanity but through his growing messiah complex. (You are the next Ghandi, the next MLK). The book’s portrayal of Elizabeth, meanwhile, will break your heart. She comes across as haughty, mean-spirited, unhinged-and this is before she knew about the affair. “The nearly universal assessment among [the staff] was that there was no one on the national stage for whom the disparity between public image and private reality was vaster or more disturbing,” the authors write.

With her husband, she could be intensely affectionate or brutally dismissive. At times subtly, at times blatantly, she was forever letting John know that she regarded him as her intellectual inferior. She called her spouse a “hick” in front of other people and derided his parents as rednecks. One time, when a friend asked if John had read a certain book, Elizabeth burst out laughing. “Oh, he doesn’t read books,” she said. “I’m the one who reads books.”