As you know, John Edwards has admitted to having an extra-marital affair with Rielle Hunter, although he says he did not father her child and their affair ended in 2006. Edwards also says he repeatedly lied about the affair during the campaign and hoped it would never become public. It also turns out that Fred Baron, the former finance director of the Edwards Campaign, bought a $3 million house in Santa Barbara for Hunter. Meanwhile, former Edwards campaign aide Andrew Young, who is married with three children, has claimed to be the father of Hunter's child.
First, let's clarify that there is nothing particularly newsworthy about the man who might be our next Attorney General attempting to hide a personal embarrassment by repeatedly lying about it publicly and then possibly orchestrating a vast house-buying and hush-money-paying conspiracy to cover it up. If our possible future Attorney General engaged in this kind of activity, I for one would rather not know about it.
But even setting aside the deep irrelevancy of this sordid affair, a number of things about it don't add up. When we look more closely, asking whether Edwards is simply a righteous champion for the underprivileged who made a human mistake, or a world-class hypocrite only recently exposed, the case only gets more murky. And when I say "murky," I mean murky with a capital "M."
What kind of a name, for example, is Rielle Hunter? It sounds made up. If this were a pulp novel, it would be the perfect name because "Rielle" sounds like "real," and now we're seeing the "real" John Edwards, and this thing is "real" bad for him, like "real, real" bad. Also, the story Edwards has long denied is in fact "real." Nifty, huh? "Hunter" is perfect, too, because she "hunted" Edwards on the trail, by pursuing him romantically and making documentary films about him, but now she and Edwards are both "hunted" by the press, which is ironic.
So one question is: Why was John Edwards having an affair with a woman whose name sounds like something out of The Da Vinci Code?
It gets more weird. According to the Times, Hunter "used to be known" as Lisa Druck. So Lisa Druck was not her real name, either? Well, at least she's choosing better names for herself.
For his part, Edwards says he had hoped the affair would never become public. Dude, you were running for president. If there was one way to ensure that every living soul on the planet would hear about this, running for president was it.
Edwards also stressed during his ABC interview that the affair happened when Elizabeth's cancer was in remission. If you wanted to pick one detail in this story that suggests John Edwards is, in fact, a lizard using a $400 haircut to masquerade as a human being, that would be the one.
Baron's explanation for his payments to Hunter is also strange. He said he only made the payments to "get her out of North Carolina." Well, I guess that makes sense. EXCEPT that North Carolina is a great place. The Outer Banks, for example, are amazing. And Chapel Hill is just gorgeous. Why was it so important for her to leave? Baron's choice of phrase is noteworthy. He said he paid Hunter the money "purely and simply to get her out of North Carolina." I mean, he might as well have said, "This was hush money, pure and simple, OK?"
Edwards has said Baron's payments to Hunter were made "on his behalf," but "without his knowledge." John. If they were made without your knowledge, then they couldn't have been made "on your behalf." As a lawyer, you should know this. Also, what does it mean that they were made "on his behalf"? Why would you buy a former lover a $3 million house in Santa Barbara if the affair had ended and you weren't the father of her child? I mean, you might beg her not to reveal the affair, and offer to help her out by, say, giving her a useless job as a videographer on your campaign. You might also brace yourself for the raging tempest the breaking news would surely bring. But a $3 million house in Santa Barbara?
Let me also say that I have been very sorry to see former Atlanta mayor, United Nations ambassador, and noted civil rights leader Andrew Young dragged into this mess. If a former southern civil rights leader was going to be in the middle of this, I would have expected it to be Vernon Jordan.
One last question: John Edwards might have been the Democratic nominee in the upcoming presidential election?