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Rielle Hunter, John Edwards’ former mistress and the reason behind one of the most spectacular falls from grace in recent political history, is out with a new tell-all book called What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter and Me. And here are 10 reasons why I wouldn’t read it if you paid me a fortune in questionable campaign funds.
1. Hunter’s story represents an ugly portrait of women as cold-hearted seductresses. It’s a reductive, un-nuanced caricature of what we’re capable of. Seeing her on the news as a woman is similar to how I felt, as a Jew, when I learned that the Ponzi schemer who decimated the coffers of charities and innocent folks’ retirement funds was a Jewish guy. It’s embarrassing.
2. Quinn, Hunter’s daughter with Edwards, will one day be able to read this book. And she’ll not only know she was conceived amid scandal and deceit—something she’d probably learn eventually anyway—but she’ll also know all the deeply salacious details of the tryst. According to excerpts purchased by the Associated Press ahead of the book’s release date, the details are explicit. No one wants to know about their parents’ sex life, even if they were conceived in love and fidelity. Yuck.
3. Even putting aside the T.M.I. factor, she’s setting a shameful example for her four-year-old daughter. When Quinn reads the book, she’ll learn her mother knowingly, eagerly engaged in a relationship with a man who was married and had children. Aren’t mothers supposed to be role models? Hunter actually said she wrote this book for her daughter, a self-serving thought process clearly masquerading as wise decision making.
4. She publicly slams Elizabeth Edwards, who is gone and not able to defend Hunter’s allegations regarding the details of her life. Hunter calls the late Edwards “bonkers” and a “witch on wheels” who drove her husband to cheat. True or false, you can’t have a fair fight with a dead woman.
5. Further, Edwards’ much-beloved wife died young under well-documented tragic circumstances, and was sick with the cancer that would kill her while her husband was philandering. And she died recently enough (December 2010) that her memory is fresh and vivid, and not yet glossed over by time. If the public still needs time to heal, what about Edwards’ own children? “Unsavory” is too mild a word. Let’s go with “vile.”
6. Marriages often end, and people often cheat. But—Jersey Shore aside—these are matters to be treated with sensitivity and restraint for the sakes of all parties involved, not with the boastful exuberance that Hunter’s decision to write the book displays. Excerpts read like an end-zone dance instead of a hushed conversation about difficult subjects. Classy much?
7. The very existence of the book displays a certain ignorance about the nature of victimhood, as if Hunter’s life took a complicated turn without her at the steering wheel. That kind of failure to take personal responsibility for one’s own indiscretions wasn’t even cute on teenage Bristol Palin, whose behaviors were at least partially explained by her age.
8. Neither Hunter nor Edwards testified at Edwards’ trial. But Hunter is making her thoughts available in this totally unchecked format? No thank you. (See also: No. 4 above.) If I was interested in learning more about the already much-publicized story—which, at this point, no, I’m not—I’d rather have it in a more contextualized format. She’s a well-documented cheater, and as such does not make for the most trust-worthy recorder of the facts as they happened.
9. Not only is Hunter apparently confused about motherhood, but about fatherhood too. According to quotes from the book, she describes Edwards as a “great dad” to their daughter “when he is with her.” Correcting the record: A great dad is always with his child to the extent that is humanly possible, and certainly doesn’t deny paternity for political subterfuge. And we’d rather not have Hunter spewing nonsense to the contrary.
10. Buying the book means tacit support of Hunter’s actions, and money in her pocket. And as far as my hard-earned dollars are concerned, for all the reasons named above, she’s on her own.
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.