The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, May 6, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's blog at The Huffington Post website.
Five Questions Oprah Should Have Asked Elizabeth Edwards
Oprah Winfrey seemingly confronted critical issues in her interview with Elizabeth Edwards about Edwards' book, Resilience. The book and the interview focused on presidential hopeful John Edwards' infidelity. Yet the questions Winfrey asked Elizabeth left all kinds of wiggle room -- factually, morally, emotionally. This was even truer when she encountered the spectral John roaming around the Edwards' obscenely large residence.
I suggest here five follow-up questions for Elizabeth Edwards.
1. Why don't you insist John get a blood test? When asked about the Hunter baby's parentage, Elizabeth answered: "I've seen a picture of the baby. I have no idea. It doesn't look like my children, but I don't have any idea." Wouldn't a religious, family-oriented woman and dedicated mother want to be clear whether her husband has paternal obligations to this baby? Among other things, it means her own children have a new sibling. And it defies belief that John doesn't know the answer -- what was Edwards doing in LA seeing Hunter and the baby when the Enquirer photographed him last July? That long-time Edwards aide Andrew Young claimed paternity is surely a cover story. It seems clear that, one way or the other, Edwards has funneled money to his former (?) mistress.
2. Do you believe John is capable of telling the truth? Either Elizabeth hasn't insisted that John inform her of his actual paternity for the Hunter baby, or else she doesn't believe a word out of his mouth. For starters, Edwards had been lying about the Hunter relationship to the press, his campaign workers, and Elizabeth for well over a year when the Enquirer photographed him visiting Hunter. Of course, when Edwards was forced to answer questions about his sexual history with Hunter, about the baby, and about his current relationship following the Enquirer bombshell, he simply parsed his answers and offered more fabrications. For one thing, he told Nightline last August that the affair was short-lived, and of course he told Elizabeth he had only had a one-night stand with Hunter. John Edwards is seemingly the proverbial congenital liar.
3. Now, enough about John, Elizabeth -- Why were you so high and mighty on the campaign trail? Staffers for the Edwards campaign suspected the Hunter affair for a long time, of course. Yet, Edwards never leveled with them and his financial supporters, even though he was betraying their trust, undermining their efforts and wasting their money. It is now clear that Edwards could never have become president. And, as her book reveals, Elizabeth knew this and still supported John in his deception. I don't understand this in terms of the Christian values that Elizabeth -- like her husband -- so often publicly espoused. Moreover, Elizabeth was the hammer in the Edwards campaign, castigating Hillary for her shortcomings (compared with her husband) on women's issues!
4. Why are you so pissed off at Rielle Hunter? The only condition that Elizabeth insisted on in her interview with Oprah was that Hunter's name not be mentioned. Is this pathetic, or what? Her references to Hunter are slighting, insinuating, and insulting -- the conniving other woman. This sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer, not of Oprah. Even Jerry is sometimes moved to ask women in similar situations (after his bodyguards pry the wife and mistress off the floor): "Why are you so angry at this woman for cheating with your husband? He's the one who's betraying you." In Elizabeth's case, she had especially extracted a vow of fidelity from John as the one thing she insisted on in marriage. Like Springer's betrayed wives, Elizabeth is simply deflecting emotions she has towards her husband that she is incapable of dealing with.
5. Why don't we just get to the bottom of all of these matters with John once and for all? Oprah asked the sniveling John a few questions when she ran into him in an enormous hallway full of warm family photographs. (John first pathetically boasted that "Barack" had played basketball in the Edwards' NBA-sized gym, like that will be happening again soon.) But this opportunity was totally wasted. If Oprah had wanted to, she could have asked all the questions about her husband's behavior that Elizabeth, the public, and Edwards supporters have been longing for answers to. They could even have laid to rest crucial legal matters -- although Edwards now has as added motivation for his deviousness that he is the subject of a criminal investigation over whether campaign money was spent to hide Hunter. But doesn't Elizabeth really want to know whether family funds are paying to support a child she seemingly despises?
Somehow, as with her husband, whenever Elizabeth Edwards is interviewed we are left with all the crucial questions with which we began.