Rielle Hunter, Please Go Away

Posted on June 8, 2012


Oh, joy.  Now that the John Edwards trial is over, we can look forward to the upcoming release of his mistress’ memoir of the whole sordid affair.  Rielle Hunter’s book will be titled What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me.  I, for one, will never so much as pick one up to look at the inside fold of the dust jacket.

Call me a little old-fashioned, or even positively Victorian, but I see something wrong not only with what John Edwards did, but also with what Ms. Hunter did.  She knew that Edwards was a married man.  She almost certainly knew his wife was very ill (wasn’t that a matter of public knowledge?).  I have no idea whether she enticed and seduced him, or it was the other way around.  I do not care.  Her proper response to him should have been, “Mr. Edwards, I’m very flattered, but you have a wife who needs you now.”  Better yet, add this: “And an affair behind the back of your ailing wife would be pretty disastrous for you, politically.”  Best of all: “And by the way, I’m not that kind of woman.”

But no, however it got started, she carried on a long-running affair with him, accepted being put up in an apartment, and apparently didn’t trouble herself with birth control.  And you know, when someone’s mistress turns up pregnant, I can’t help but think that must have been intentional on her part.  Maybe the baby is leverage to help wrest the lover away from his wife.  Maybe the baby is a meal ticket to get support from a well-heeled father.  Maybe the mistress just wanted a baby.  Whatever the reasoning,  popping out a surprise baby on a father who didn’t agree to procreate is not the ideal way to go about starting a family.

Some will say that Edwards “agreed” to procreate when he decided to have sex with Hunter.  I don’t think so; I think he was just stupid and thinking with the wrong body part.  Edwards initially denied paternity, and that tells me all I need to know about his willingness at the time.  Oh, most willing to have sex.  Not so willing to make a baby.  Hunter, however, was in control of the decision to get pregnant or not.  We do live in an age of easily available birth control, and as a gynecologist once told me, “It’s up to the woman to close the door” to procreation.

It’s sleazy enough that mistresses and high-priced hookers now proudly regale book audiences with their exploits – the same exploits that have brought down men who had accomplished some things in life, and had potential to do a lot more, if not for their silly hubris and the fact that their careers were in the ever-fickle and ever-judgmental public eye.  The same exploits that sometimes bring unwanted children into the world out of wedlock, cast off by their fathers, sources of embarrassment, the symbols of ruined careers.

And now, if the title of her misbegotten book is any indication, Ms. Hunter is also about to drag her child’s personal history into the public eye for a few bucks.  Very classy, Ms. Hunter.  Very classy.