Someone finally read John Edwards aide Andrew Young's forthcoming tell-all, putting a cherry on top of months of crazy Edwards rumors. He's a wellspring of scandal—but is it all John's fault? A guide to the Edwards blame game.
Though The Politician doesn't hit shelves until Feb. 2, Wall Street Journal blog Washington Wire apparently "purchased a copy" and read it. (Maybe the bookstore jumped the gun because John Edwards' forcefield of irrational behavior infected them.) Let's go through the new leaks.
- Claim: "Fat rednecks" sicken John Edwards.
Young says Edwards is an Atkins-dieter who hated making appearances at state fairs where "fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I'm the people's senator, but do I have to hang out with them?"
- Blame: 90/10 split between Edwards and Andrew Young. The attitude tracks with the artifice depicted in election book Game Change, but the wording of that last sentence may be a bit too perfect.
- Claim: John wanted Andrew to "handle" Rielle's pregnancy and persuade her to abort.
According to Young, Hunter called him in May 2007 to say she was pregnant. Young says that when he informed Edwards, the senator told him to "handle it," to which he replied: "I can't handle this one." Young writes that Edward unloaded on Hunter as a "crazy slut," said they had an "open relationship," and put his paternity chances at "one in three." Young says that Edwards asked him for help persuading Hunter to have an abortion.
- Blame: All John. He convinced Andrew and Rielle to fake a relationship; it's no big leap to imagine he considered a few other strategies first.
- Claim: John was busy banging Rielle when Elizabeth realized her cancer was back, and incurable.
Elizabeth Edwards said publicly that she discovered her cancer had returned shortly after a rib broke from a strong hug from her husband. Young writes that she broke her rib while she was moving boxes and her husband was in Iowa planning a tryst for Hunter's birthday. Young writes that Edwards got the call and hurried home—and sent flowers to his angry mistress.
- Blame: 100 percent John, with Liz playing the delightfully devious spurned woman. What sick genius to blame the broken rib on John's overabundant love—I recall when this story broke, thinking that John and Liz had an awesome sex life. Turns out it was just him, and Elizabeth is an expert at inducing guilt trips.
- Claim: Rielle thought Frances Quinn was the second coming, and Edwards was God.
Young writes that Hunter believed the baby to be "some kind of golden child, the reincarnated spirit of a Buddhist monk who was going to help save the world."
- Blame: 60 percent Rielle, 30 percent Andrew (who, after being forced to claim paternity and cohabitate with a woman he loathes, is probably in scorched-earth ex-roommate mode), 10 percent John for sleeping with a sycophant.
- Claim: A socialite named Bunny Mellon turned Rielle into John's kept woman.
To hide Hunter's expenses during her pregnancy, Edwards tapped funds from heiress and socialite Bunny Mellon, known as "the Bunny money," as Young tells it, with payment totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. [...] Mellon's lawyer, Alex Forger, said that Mellon had sent money to Edwards for his personal use, had paid gift taxes on it, and did not know how Edwards used it. "Good old Andrew Young said it was for a personal need and she responded," Forger told Washington Wire in an interview.
- Blame: John, Andrew, and Bunny, the eccentric Listerine heiress who New York Social Diary says "once built a large swimming pool on her Osterville estate only to decide when it was finished that the deep end was on the wrong side. The pool was dug up and completely reconstructed to her specifications." Now that's a woman who knows how to finance a scandal.
- Claim: John and Rielle planned a fantasy wedding, with cheesy music.
He also writes that he listened as Edwards told her that one day they would form their own family and have a wedding where the Dave Matthews Band would play.
- Blame: John. This leak was in an earlier NYT account, too, and it totally makes sense that the soundtrack to a rich white guy's mid-life crisis affair with a younger woman would be Crash Into Me. He probably murmured "Your body is a wonderland" as she slept, too.
- Claim: Elizabeth intercepted a Rielle love-rant.
Shortly after John Edwards and Hunter returned from a trip to Uganda in 2006, Elizabeth Edwards answered a cell phone call to hear Hunter who "launched into a romantic monologue," Young writes. According to Young's account, Elizabeth confronted her husband who "confessed to having had a one-night stand but didn't say with whom."
- Blame: This tests the bounds of believability. How did Rielle know to start talking if Elizabeth didn't say "Hello"? Because if Liz spoke, woudn't Rielle have heard the voice and realized it wasn't John? This sounds like a fantasy from a teen rom com. If it's true, the blame goes to Rielle for not understanding how phones work. If false, it goes to Andrew for confusing an episode of Desperate Housewives with reality.
- Claim: John Edwards' true love, though, was Andrew Young.
Young set up a nonprofit corporation, and Edwards left him a voicemail telling him, "I really love you, Andrew."
Young writes that Edwards promised "He would make sure I had a job in the future," and told him: "You're family. A friend like no friend I've ever had."
Blame: Tragic misinterpretation at the hands of (cringe) "butt boy" Andrew Young, whose bizarre worship of Edwards is well-documented. But John encouraged and took advantage of Young, which is straight-up awful.
- Claim: The sex tape convinced Andrew to abandon John. Also, Rielle is preggers in it.
Young describes his alleged discovery of a compromising videotape of Edwards and a naked, pregnant lover, identified by Young as Hunter. "It was like watching a traffic pileup occur in slow motion—it was repelling but also transfixing," he writes.
- Blame: 100 percent John, because you can't just make a boy like Andrew fall for you, then rub your other lovers in his face. It's just not fair. [WashWire]