Thursday, January 28, 2010

No, her halo hasn't slipped.

Has there ever been a political wife who's been dealt such an unfortunate set of cards in the game of life as Elizabeth Edwards?

Racking my brains I can't recall anyone else who's had to deal with the death of a much-loved son, a proliferation of vengeful cancer cells assaulting their body with such cruel efficiency that time's sands are inexorably draining away and a good-for-nothing husband who doesn't seem to have paid any attention to the very sex-"education" curricula he'd have foisted on hapless American youngsters had he made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Yet not only has Elizabeth Edwards handled this succession of awful crises with admirable aplomb - how many betrayed wives would give Christmas presents to their useless husband's illegitimate offspring? - she's also also built herself a career devoted to reforming healthcare for the common good. Devoid of self-pity or misery-induced lassitude, there's one word for Elizabeth Edwards and that is: magnificent. She is the La Stupenda of political spouses.

Typically, it's now, a time of the acutest personal sadness for Elizabeth - the failed presidential candidate has  just confirmed suspicions that they've separated - that the news media has decided to indulge in its favourite sport, scything down the tallest poppies syndrome.

This offering by New York Daily News grotesque, Jane Ridley, was typical of the genre.

"No woman deserves cancer or a cheating husband, but Mrs. Edwards has done herself no favors," declared Ridley sweetly before going on to assail Elizabeth for having the nerve to write a memoir, Reslience, about what must have been a deeply painful episode, or "invading her own privacy" as she put it. There are further thumbs down for the fact that Elizabeth described her husband's dopey-looking mistress, actress manquée Rielle Hunter as "one of those people ... who look at our lives, which from the outside in particular are pictures of joy and plenty, and want it for themselves." Most fair-minded people would say Elizabeth was restrained to the point of martrydom in that collection of sentences but Ridley's still not done.

'The mother-of-three pompously guided Oprah [as opposed to "meekly guided Oprah", "shamefacedly guided Oprah", "prostrated herself before Oprah, beat her breasts and begged her forgiveness before leading her into the executive lounge] through her grand $6 million home. Worse, she coldy [!] referred to Hunter's daughter as "it", as in, "It doesn't look like my children."'

How, in the name of all that's good and holy, does Ridley expect wives to refer to their husband's born-on-the-other-side-of-the-blanket kids? My dear spouse's charming toddler conceived with his mistress during his extramarital affair?

Maybe there'd be some women daft enough to oblige but Elizabeth isn't one of them. She's not a doormat or an emotion-free drone. She's a smart, sassy, attractive woman and the best thing which ever happened to John "I feel pretty" Edwards. I hope she takes him to the cleaners.

Meanwhile, this blog ventures to make a suggestion to the most powerful man in the world: if you want to prevent healthcare reform from becoming another Clintonesque dog's dinner, Mr President, you need to have someone who can steer the healthcare debate in the right direction. You need a Healthcare Tsar, Mr President. Step forward, La Stupenda. She'd be far and away the best person for the job and oh, the biting jealousy it would inspire in John Edwards would be an added, richly savoured benefit.

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