Sunday, October 9, 2016

John Edwards: A Senate Democrat’s 1980s Sex Scandal



It 's ironic that there would be such uproar about Donald Trump’s puerile ten year old boasts about his behavior with women.  While the presidential candidate’s recorded remarks are rightly condemned, the level of piety and sanctimonious hand-wringing by some members of the press is distressing and hypocritical.

Where have all these people been for the past thirty-odd years?  Have they never listened to popular music?  Watched TV?  Listened to shock jock radio?  Been one of the 125 million people who read “Fifty Shades of Gray?” Have they forgotten Bill Clinton?  Gary Hart ring a bell?

Perhaps the presidential candidate with the most chance of competing with Bill Clinton’s in-office seduction of young aide Monica Lewinsky was Senator John Edwards. Edwards was popular, with good looks and a squeaky clean image.   He had what some people described as a “Breck girl” appeal.    

The sex scandal which forced his withdrawal was graphic, described in some accounts as “gross” sexual activity. While the sex tapes were eventually destroyed by court order, some members of the press and others in law enforcement had viewed Edwards in the act of cunnilingus with lover Rielle Hunter.  

 Edwards’ defenders claim his elaborate scheme to keep his risqué affair with Rielle Hunter out of the public eye was  to protect his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth. Law enforcement took a dimmer view, considering that the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid out on Edwards’ behalf was followed by a prosecution for bribery.

“Gross,” the John Edwards sex tape affair may have been, but it was also laughable.  Hunter was supposed to highlight the Edwards campaign in a documentary film.  A torrid affair with her journalistic subject was just one of the highlights. 

Another was when Edwards campaign aide Andrew Young wrote a book about behind the scenes activity on the campaign trail.   Young proved himself to have a sense of humor in saying the sex tape just tumbled out of his suiticase when he’d gone home to unpack.  Rielle Hunter claimed that Young stole the tape from her. She filed a lawsuit to retake possession of it.

Edwards was subpoenaed to testify in the civil court contest, but his lawyers protested that his testimony at his trial would violate his  5th Amendment protections.

Edwards faced six separate criminal charges stemming from payoffs to Hunter and Young to keep them quiet.  The payments were made by a third party but North Carolina prosecutors believed Edwards was aware of the payments.   Edwards pleaded innocent to all charges, and said he wasn’t aware of any such payments.

Edwards’ response to all allegations was to deny, deny, deny.  While he had no choice but to admit to the affair with Hunter, he also denied being the father of  the baby she gave birth to.

  The relationship between Edwards, Hunter, and Young was an unusual love triangle by any measure.  In the typical love triangle, a person is caught between two competing love interests.  The Edwards – Rielle Hunter affair was sort of a menage a trois, but only in the sense that the married-with-children Andrew Young , at first, claimed to be Hunter’s lover.  

When the press became suspicious of Edwards and suspected he was having an affair with Hunter, Young came forward to pose as the man in Hunter’s life.  In that way, the campaign entourage could travel together without raising further suspicions.

Eventually a tabloid produced photos of Edwards visiting Hunter and their child.   Edwards ultimately acknowledged the affair and that the child was his. 

In so far as his legal trial was concerned, John Edwards was found not guilty of one of the six charges levied against him. A mistrial was declared on the remaining five charges.  


No comments: