Used to say you were flawed if you weren’t free

Not that she let’s John Edwards completely off the hook, but this passage by Caitlin Flanagan describing Rielle Hunter is appalling:

…his (former) mistress, a known hellcat who has been flummoxing boy-men since the ’80s and whose rage over Elizabeth’s book is held in check only (and here I’m admittedly basing my speculation largely on what I’ve come to learn about women’s dreams and desires) by her hankering to live in Tara. Hers is not an intelligence or an ambition difficult to plumb, and her dream is almost certainly to have Elizabeth shuffle off the mortal coil so that she can instate herself in the North Carolina pleasure dome and become the fun, hip, “Being Is Free,” bleached-blond, super open-minded, videographing, Power of Now stepmom, a prospect so hideous that it makes Elizabeth Edwards’s last-chance book tour look like what it is: a desperate attempt to protect her sweet, sad children from the influence of this erstwhile cokehead and present-day weasel after she has died.

Really? I harbor no love for Hunter — she was the second party in a deceitful conspiracy that brought down the progressive presidential campaign that I supported — but this seems like an absurd attempt to throw the rhetorical kitchen sink at her.  Ta-Nehisi calls it “gender-nationalist,” and I think that’s right in the sense that only Hunter and Elizabeth Edwards are really granted any agency in the piece, whereas John Edwards, party one in the previously mentioned conspiracy, is a dolt who decided to blow up a campaign that was incredibly important to millions of people…why exactly? Because Hunter is a mean slut?

Certainly writing a piece that focuses on Hunter ties in much better with an examination of the life and beliefs of Helen Gurley Brown and gives Flanagan license to critique revisionist feminist historians who would turn Brown’s “how to win a millionaire” guidebook into a liberatory text.  And while the magazine-long-form is long, it’s not infinite, so one can excuse the absense of a socio-biological (or whatever) critical framework to explain John’s actions.  However, none of that explains the vitriol directed at Hunter, who for all her flaws was not the one tasked with being faithful to a partner or honorable to a movement.

5 comments to Used to say you were flawed if you weren’t free

  • Marilyn

    Interesting post – true as you said, Hunter was not the one tasked with having morals or decency – ie. she should/could have ended the affair or better yet not started the affair. Naw – Hunter had her own agenda involving Edwards. John Edwards was and maybe still is (I don’t believe the affair ever ended BTW) a person of weak moral character when it comes to sex.

  • Yes he is and that’s really unfortunate since he was a good advocate for progressive causes. No one in an affair is blameless, but only Edwards betrayed a movement.

  • Hi Kevin I was very moved reading this. My mehtor passed away a number of years ago and I missed out on the final goodbye this thought will live with me always. Things happen when we let our logical guard slip, when emotions are high, when we are open to the senses which we so often ignore. There is a form of peace in these moments I think you all experienced it the night your Mom passed away, which incidentially is my birhtday, the 25th Oct. I had a quick read of your author bio you are a very accomplished man from the sound of it, your Mom must have been very proud. Well done on your success so far.

  • BC, I agree.Anonymous 1, it’s hard to go more than a month (sometimes a week) without some coaversntive offering another version of the ticking time-bomb… that’s all they got. They also ignore that it’s been discredited countless times.Thanks, all for stopping by, both here and the actual entry at BH!

  • Congrats! And good for you Tim. Many people beeivle that a person who writes for a living can easily turn out a story or book off hours or on their own time. I think it’s much harder to sit back down in front of a computer after working all day and try to be creative. I admire the discipline it took to do this and I wish you well with it.BTW, check out David Sparks commentary on sell publishing vs traditional on the Podcast Mac Power Users (episode #59 iPad at Work) his decision to go the traditional route was pretty convincing.Nice meeting in person yesterday.Bill

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