Judging by the current volume of media coverage centered around the disintegration of several high-profile marriages, it appears that the public has developed quite an insatiable appetite to consume as much information surrounding these divorce court bound unions as possible. Throw in the speculation of an extra-marital affair or two, and you can all but guarantee a steady audience ready to feast on every salacious morsel served up by unidentified “close” friends of the couple. The paparazzi laden supermarket tabloid covers add a visual context to all of the reports of public squabbles, possible affairs, and arguments over marital property and child custody. With the exception of a few notable couples (insert Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston here), typically, once the ink on the divorce decree has dried up, the race to document the next break-up is already in full-swing.
Back in 2007, murmurings of an extra-marital affair were beginning to plague the campaign of Presidential hopeful John Edwards. Vehement denials of the affair and of fathering a child through this relationship ceased in early 2010 when John Edwards admitted to having had an affair and a child with Rielle Hunter. Elizabeth Edwards diagnosis of breast cancer, the release of her memoir, and her subsequent death kept a flicker of her husband’s affair and child with Rielle Hunter in the spotlight, but for the most part, the media (and most in the general public) had moved onto the next marital tragedy. Even John Edwards trial for allegedly violating campaign contribution laws did not amass the attention on his affair that it had when the story first broke. Legal pundits were more focused on reporting on the daily in’s and outs of the trial, along with predicting whether John Edwards would be convicted on any of the charges filed against him, than on his affair and child with Rielle Hunter. Enter Rielle Hunter….
In what she has declared in several TV interviews as her attempt to “set the record straight” for the general public and her daughter, Rielle Hunter weaves a tale of a wicked and delusional wife whose husband was left with little alternative but to seek love and respect in the arms of other women. “Venomous,” and “witch” are just two of the adjectives Rielle Hunter uses to further her tale of the horrible wife she’s convinced Elizabeth Edwards was to John Edwards . When pressed by the women of the View to react to the belief that using such inflammatory language against the woman whose husband she had an affair and child with, a woman who died a while back of breast cancer, shows poor taste, Rielle Hunter said that she was merely exposing the truth of who Elizabeth Edwards truly was, as reported to her by others, primarily John Edwards. Rielle Hunter contends that the portrayal of Elizabeth Edwards the Saint and John Edwards the demon is inaccurate and should be dispelled, her book being the mechanism through which this “inaccuracy” will be put to rest.
While it would be easy for me to rail on the absurdity that is Rielle Hunter, I won’t. Rielle Hunter is not unique. Nothing Rielle Hunter has stated thus far, including how she is not to blame for the break-up of a marriage that she claims was broken prior to her arrival, is out of the norm when dodging responsibility. The power to choose whether or not to enter into a relationship with a married man is something Rielle Hunter always possessed. Instead of walking away from the advances of a man with a wife and children, time and again, Rielle Hunter placed herself in situations where she would be in inappropriate settings alone with John Edwards, culminating in a relationship where she decided to have unprotected sex with John Edwards. Sure, there are individuals to whom we may feel a strong attraction, and yes, the power of this attraction may lead us to believe that we have no choice but to cross certain lines in the name of love. Although her actions demonstrated otherwise, at the time Rielle Hunter met John Edwards she was not an impulsive child who didn’t have the wherewithal and ability to distance herself from him. Assuaging her conscience with the thought that the Edwards marriage was broken before she entered into the affair may provide Rielle Hunter with some level of comfort, however, this should not, does not, minimize her culpability. Could the Edwards marriage have been deeply fractured prior to Rielle Hunter affair with John Edwards, yes. Could Elizabeth Edwards have been every bit the fire-breathing dragon Rielle Hunter posits her as in her book, yes. So what. While it can certainly provide the ideal fodder for an extra-marital affair, a struggling marriage and/or terrible spouse is not carte blanche to justify entering into such a relationship.
Rielle Hunter’s desire to be looked upon as a mother, not a mistress, cannot exist within the bubble she has constructed. It is doubtful that Rielle Hunter will ever move past the label of mistress, especially when she is unwilling to take responsibility and apologize for her actions. Until Rielle Hunter steps back and takes an honest look at the role she played in desecrating a marriage and family, any hope of living an authentic life is lost, as any semblance of leaving an authentic record for her daughter to one day examine.