Newsweek’s Jonathan Darman, who wrote about Rielle Hunter and John Edwards before their personal relationship was suspected by even the National Enquirer, wonders today about Hunter’s silence in the face of all the intense media scrutiny and multiple books that have addressed her affair with the presidential candidate. “When the story broke, Rielle seemed the last person capable of keeping her mouth shut. She was said to consult psychics for advice and to confide details of her affair in friends with names like ‘Pigeon,’” he observes. “And yet, for two years, she has behaved with more public dignity than any other figure in the Edwards scandal. In fact, she acted with more discipline and discretion than any mistress in the recent history of sex scandals.”
“This would hardly seem to be a title worth bragging about,” Darman acknowledges. “After all, a mistress may have discipline, but she is still a mistress. However phony the Edwardses’ pretenses, and however dysfunctional their marriage, the fact remains that Rielle actively insinuated herself into the lives of a married couple with three children.”
Still, it’s a compelling observation. Monica Lewinsky co-authored a book and appeared on Saturday Night Live. Donna Rice became a spokesmodel for a jeans company. Ashely Dupré has a column in the Post. So why has Rielle Hunter, who seemed so thirsty for fame at the outset that she relentlessly pursued Edwards and insinuated herself into his campaign, been suddenly and enduringly mum? Everyone else involved in the scandal — Edwards, his wife Elizabeth, former aide Andrew Young — has appeared on television or written a book to talk about it, after all. Writes Darman:
I’m certainly surprised that she’s stayed quiet as long as she has. As I have previously written in NEWSWEEK, I got to know Rielle while covering Edwards’s fledgling presidential campaign in 2006 and 2007. Her interest in Edwards’s campaign was inexplicable, save for the fact that she was clearly drawn to fame and famous people. The life story she told me was sort of a celebrity version of Where’s Waldo — how she’d dated the novelist Jay McInerney in the ‘80s and served as the inspiration for one of his novels, how she’d traveled the world with the hairstylist Sally Hirshberger, how she’d lived in Meg Ryan’s home for a time. She seemed to like living a life close to the spotlight, if not directly in it.
Does it matter what’s going on in her mind? Maybe not. But her silence adds just another facet to a completely fascinating — if repugnant — public personality, who is persistently difficult to ignore. Perhaps that’s the point.
The Quiet Dignity of Rielle Hunter [Newsweek]