I really wanted to avoid mention of Edwards, a guy who appeared slimy to me with his fake smile, whitened teeth, and words that never fit his lips, but Maureen Dowd skewers him so perfectly, I have to place her here.
Keeping It Rielle
John Edwards’s confession was a little bit breathtaking.
Not the sex stuff. That happens here all the time.
And certainly not covering up the sex stuff. That happens here all the time, too. First people uncover; then they cover up. Nobody’s ever had sex with that woman until, suddenly, they have.
The stunning admission Edwards made to ABC’s Bob Woodruff, and in a written statement from Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon, was that he’s a narcissist.
He admitted that wallowing in “self-focus” out on the trail and thinking you’re “special” can result in a solipsism that “leads you to believe you can do whatever you want, you’re invincible and there’ll be no consequences.”
Auto-psychoanalysis by the perp. That’s really rich. When Bill Clinton acknowledged an affair, after equally adamant denials, he simply went into an old-fashioned spiral of penitence, his allegedly long, dark night of his alleged soul.
Even in confessing to preening, Edwards was preening. His diagnosis of narcissism was weirdly narcissistic, or was it self-narcissistic? Given his diagnosis, I’m sure his H.M.O. would pay.
The creepiest part of his creepy confession was when he stressed to Woodruff that he cheated on Elizabeth in 2006 when her cancer was in remission. His infidelity was oncologically correct.
So narcissist walks into a New York bar and meets a legendarily wacky former Gotham party girl — whose ’80s exploits were chronicled in a novel by her former boyfriend Jay McInerney because the behavior of her and her friends “intrigued and appalled me.” When you appall Jay McInerney, you know you’re in trouble.
The president manqué gives Rielle Hunter, formerly Lisa Druck, more than $114,000 to shoot vain little videos for his Web site (even though she’s a neophyte), one of which is scored with the song “True Reflections” about the Narcissus pool, which goes: “When you look into a mirror, do you like what’s looking at you? Now that you’ve seen your true reflections, what on earth are you gonna do?”
He has an affair with Hunter, while he’s honing his speech on the imperative to “live in a moral, honest, just America.” A married former aide says he’s the father when she gets pregnant, even though she’s telling people Edwards is the dad. And one of his campaign donors pays off Hunter to get her resettled with the baby out of North Carolina.
But the Breck Girl wants a gold star for the fact that he sent his marriage into remission when his wife was in remission. That’s special.
In his statement, he bleats: “You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten up myself. I have been stripped bare.” Isn’t stripping bare how he got into this mess?
It isn’t like we didn’t know that the son of a millworker was a little enraptured by himself, radiating self-love from his smile and his man-in-a-hurry airs and the notorious $800 bill for a pair of haircuts and his two-minute YouTube hair primping to the tune of “I Feel Pretty.”
Certain men assume that power confers sexual privilege. And in American politics, there is an eternal disjunction between character and achievement. Sinners do good things, saints do bad things.
Still, it’s bizarre the way these pols spend millions getting their faces plastered everywhere and then think they can do something in secret. “Yeah, I didn’t think anyone would ever know about it, I didn’t,” Edwards said.
In one of the Web films Hunter directed, he actually flirts with the blonde, laughingly telling her that his address on morality is “a great speech” and complaining, “Why don’t you hear me give it live?”
For some reason, super-strivers have a need to sell what is secretly weakest about themselves, as if they yearn for unmasking. Edwards’s decency and concern for the weak in society — except for his own wife. Bill Clinton’s intellect and love of community — except for his stupidity and destructiveness about Monica. Bush the Younger’s jocular, I’m-in-charge self-confidence — except for turning over his presidency, as no president ever has, to his Veep. Eliot Spitzer’s crusade for truth, justice and the American way — except at home.
In the Hunter video titled “Plane Truths,” Edwards is relaxing on his plane, telling the out-of-frame director: “I’ve come to the personal conclusion that I actually want the country to see who I am, who I really am, but I don’t know what the result of that will be. But for me personally, I’d rather be successful or unsuccessful based on who I really am, not based on some plastic Ken doll that you put up in front of audiences.” Ken couldn’t have said it better.
Back in 2002, Edwards sent me a Ken doll dressed in bathing trunks, Rio de Janeiro Ken, with a teasing note, because he didn’t like my reference to him as a Ken doll in a column.
In retrospect, the comparison was not fair — to Ken.