Now Elizabeth Edwards is to Blame?

Tue, August 12, 2008

Moms & Politics

As an early adopter of the John Edwards presidential campaign, I’m still smarting over the news of his affair. Not because I think his personal life, or personal mistakes, are any of my GD business, but because of how this could have truly messed things up for the Democrats if he had become the nominee.

Because of how this distracts from reducing poverty in America, Edwards’ pet issue.

Because of what he’s said in the past about character and commitment to family and their importance for politicians.

It never occurred to me to hold Elizabeth Edwards responsible for what might have happened to an Edwards candidacy this late in the game. But apparently, Sally Quinn had a lot of extra time on her hands, because in her Washington Post column, “On Faith,” she blames Elizabeth Edwards for encouraging her husband to run for president even though she knew about the liaison. And then smacked a really ugly and loaded label on Elizabeth — “enabler.”

In Political Wives Enabling Immoral Behavior, Quinn claims to respect Elizabeth Edwards, but then attacks her as someone who “allowed” her husband to lie and lays the decision of Edwards to run for president at her feet, launching into a diatribe about political wives enabling the dalliances of their husbands. But if we start going down that road, then don’t we have to hold all wives of cheating husbands responsible for those actions? Sally, I’m sure you have friends who have found themselves in the same situation. Are you ready to hold their feet to that moral fire, too?

While Elizabeth supported her husband’s decision to run for president, I have a hard time believing that she could have stopped him or that any reasonable journalist would find a backhanded way of holding the wife responsible for the sins of the husband. Really … wasn’t she just a little bit busy fighting cancer, taking care of two small children and, I’m guessing, still being a big support system for her older daughter?

As Diane raised in her blog post over at The WomensDISH, I’m also uncomfortable with one woman trying to toss another under the bus after viewing the situation through a lens of righteousness that I’m pretty sure she bought in the 1950s. The funny thing about judging others too harshly, though, is even if you think politicians are fair targets, that game can come back to bite you, especially if you live in a similar spotlight.

Sally, if you want to take on the issue of infidelity and politics, try putting the blame where it belongs. Or better yet, let’s leave this one where it should stay — back in the 1950s.

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11 Responses to “Now Elizabeth Edwards is to Blame?”

  1. Diane K. Danielson Says:

    Great post! I’m wondering if Quinn and her WaPo buddies are watching Mad Men this summer and, unlike the rest of us (who are shocked by the overtness of the sexist and racist behavior), are thinking “right on, baby!”

  2. Daisy Says:

    Well said. I was upset by the idea of blaming Elizabeth, as well. She was seriously ill with cancer! How is that “enabling”? The major difference between Edwards and Bill Clinton is that Edwards handled this personally long before it became public. Elizabeth didn’t have to find out from the press.
    I think the W.Post had “two 50s and no 60s” a la Field of Dreams.

  3. Michelle Says:

    Wow, that is awful! That mentality is mind boggling to me. According to them, men never have to be held accountable for their actions. Sheesh.

  4. anniegirl1138 Says:

    What amazes me is that we the people get worked up about what boils down to someone else’s marital issues.

    If E. Edwards knew of the affair and was backing her husband’s run – which includes a message that is more talk than action on his part – than she is not innocent of deception. I don’t know if I would call it enabling but certainly she knew he was being a hypocrite and helped him with the facade.

    Frankly, I wonder if she weren’t terminally ill if there would be the outrage on her behalf. I posted this before but terminal illness does not make saints out of people or change the reality of what it means to be married. There are still issues and give/take and all that other stuff going in and the diagnosis is just one more component.

    They had to both want the White House to have gone ahead knowing that he could be found out. You can’t discount her ambition because she is ill. They gambled. They lost. Fortunately it is something that won’t hurt the Dem chances in November the way it would have if Edwards were the nominee.

    Marriages don’t break down without the participation of both parties to varying degrees. We don’t know why the affair occurred or why they reconciled or why they took the risk they did. Only they do. But in my opinion, it is “they” not “him” or “her”. Marriage is a partnership.

    OT: Why are hypocrite politicians still such a shock to us?

  5. Shonda Little Says:

    I want to lead of by saying, “Suck it, Sally!”
    Her claims are insane.
    I, too, am upset with John Edwards. Like you, it’s not because of his mistakes. It’s because he knows that we live in the information age. This isn’t the media that covered the Kennedy Administration.
    With that said, what does Sally suggest Elizabeth do, keep John from ever working again because he was unfaithful? Does she now know that some of this country’s most successful leaders have been lying, cheating dogs, i.e. Ben Frankin, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower? Should the Colonies kept Ben Franklin at home rather than going to France to bargain for this aid in the Revolutionary War?
    I’m not suggesting Edwards is a Franklin. I am suggesting that, as pissed as I am at John for making the party vulnerable for his own ambition, I don’t think infidelity makes one incapable in whatever job they so choose.
    Like you said, what if every scorned spouse kept their unfaithful partner from pursuing their ambition? How many doctors would be out of work? I can think of three in my little bitty town.

  6. Tracee Says:

    I don’t think it’s surprising. It was inevitable.

    Look how Bill’s escapades tarnished Hillary’s reputation. She was a cheater by association. Many people were afraid she would bring his sexcapades back into the public light.

    Blame Elizabeth? I’ve seen it all over the Internet today – she should have had more sex with him, how dare she help him cover it up, he must not have been happy with her.


  7. Motherhood Uncensored Says:

    It’s amazing how they can twist this one.

    He’s a big boy. He made his own decisions. She didn’t let him do or not do anything.

    Adultery isn’t illegal — so what if she knew and backed him to run. There’s plenty worse.

    If Bush’s only downfall was being a cheater…

  8. Velma Says:

    Great post. I don’t know why I keep being astounded by all the asshattery out there, but I am.

  9. Karen Says:

    You’re right on. Besides, we don’t really know what else Edwards is lying about. He lied about the affair–do we believe him when he says he that he told Elizabeth way back when? Maybe she didn’t know when he decided to run. (Unlikely, I know), but the bottom line is none of us know or will ever know what really went down. To blame Elizabeth for her husband’s escapades and lapses in judgment is just stupid and unfair. If we could ever know all the facts, then maybe we would be in a position to judge some of her choices. . .but we don’t and we won’t. And she certainly isn’t responsible for his infidelity.

    What did you think of Maureen Dowd’s column on Edwards/Rielle yesterday?

  10. Elaine Says:

    While I agree with everything that’s been said, I also wonder what our greatest outrage is about: the fact that he cheated? the fact that he ran for president despite knowing that his affair placed the Democratic party at great risk? the fact that he lied about his affair when the Enquirer first came sniffing around? the fact that no apology he offers now can undo the sense of betrayal many of us feel?

    For some reason, it seems important to me to pinpoint the source of my anger and I just don’t know yet.


  11. Anne Says:

    Elizabeth Edwards is an enabler. She should have stopped him from running. And now, because of both their actions, Hillary Clinton lost her rightful place as the nominee for the Democratic Party. It was selfish and mean of the Edwards to do this. I feel sorry for neither of them.

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