It's easy to understand why John Edwards first felt he was entitled to cheat on his wife and family, and then second, thought he could keep it secret from the American public. He is a self-admitted "narcissist", and narcissists believe they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it. As psychologist Cooper Lawrence told me, "they always think some other poor schnook will get caught, not them."
The bigger question is "why did Elizabeth Edwards drink her husband's Kool-Aid? How could she have possibly believed that her husbands affair would remain a private matter when he was running for President of the United States? Hello, the National Enquirer had already broken the story last fall. Why in fact, did she knowingly encourage her spouse to even enter the campaign when she had been fully informed about the affair for over a year? And she helped support and propagate John Edwards' image as a devoted husband and family man.
She was so supportive that she even remained committed to his campaign after the discovery of her metastasized breast cancer. Despite the fact that she was facing a terminal illness, she was willing to take flack for her belief that John Edwards' presidential campaign was so important that not even her own health should stand in the way of its proceeding.
Elizabeth Edwards is now protesting in her own public statement that the public appetite to 'know" is the real culprit in the situation. The 'public' is being voyeuristic in her view and is getting in the way of her family's right to privacy.
Well, she may not want to admit it but Elizabeth is as guilty as her husband at this point, in inviting the public into her family's personal life. Once Bill Clinton's antics in the White House with Monica Lewinsky became Page One headlines for months, no presidential candidate or their family could ever realistically kid themselves, that marital fidelity would not be an issue in political life. If she had any questions about that last spring, she only had to make a call to Silda Spitzer.
No, Elizabeth Edwards had to be in some extraordinary form of denial and that's why she became her husband's "ambition enabler", when she supported his recent run for the presidency. My belief is that after almost thirty years of marriage she too had become so invested in his political ambitions, his cause, that she couldn't give up either, even after he cheated and she knew there was a chance his affair could be reported in the mainstream press.
"His success, now defined her success, so she was willing to go along with the fraud that that their marriage was fine," believes psychologist Victoria Zdrok, currently working on a book titled," Dr. Z on Straying."
Think about it. The Edwards met in law school; She still wears the $11 wedding ring he gave her. He became a successful trial lawyer and then a member of the Senate. She pursued a law career too but ultimately gave it up to support his career and take care of their family. As a couple they experienced the worst of tragedies, the death of their 16 year-old son, and then they made the decision to have two more children. It's easy to understand why Elizabeth Edwards would feel that her marriage was worth salvaging after her spouses' episode of infidelity. It's the presidential campaign that is far harder to understand.
That's why I believe that it's because Elizabeth had made such an enormous personal commitment to her role as her husband's helpmate and as a potential first lady and had made so many sacrifices over the years in the interests of realizing those goals, that she was willing to risk public exposure.
Her terminal illness may actually have also played a role in her decision to publicly stand by her man and his presidential ambitions, according to Zdrok. "When we seek death, we often seek to achieve a symbolic immortality. And becoming a presidential wife could have been that for her."
In any case, Elizabeth Edwards was a victim when her husband cheated. She did nothing to deserve that and as a wife she had every right and many reasons to forgive the jerk. But the decision to stand behind him and publicly broadcast his staunch family values image was her own doing. As courageous and admirable as she has been in dealing with her cancer, she is now the latest member of the Publicly Humiliated Wives Club, and she has no right to complain about the public's interest in knowing exactly what has happened. She helped get herself in this situation.
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