Posts Tagged ‘John Edwards’
Elizabeth Edwards was surrounded by her family and friends in North Carolina late Monday as news came that her terminal cancer had spread to her liver.
Elizabeth Edwards, 61, the estranged wife of former presidential contender John Edwards, has battled cancer since 2004. She was diagnosed with breast cancer during the waning weeks of the 2004 presidential election when John Edwards was the vice-presidential nominee for Sen. John Kerry.
The news of Elizabeth Edwards’ deterioration was reported by numerous news outlets, including WRAL.com, a website for the Raleigh-Durham area. The website also reported Edwards had recently been hospitalized. Her doctors have said that further treatment would be futile.
“Elizabeth has been advised by her doctors that further treatment of her cancer would be unproductive. She is resting at home with family and friends,” the Edwards family says in a statement to PEOPLE.
Elizabeth Edwards posted a Facebook message Monday on her personal page to her friends. “I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope,” she wrote. “These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that.”
Since 2004, Edwards has struggled with health and marital issues.
John Edwards, who served as North Carolina’s senator from 1999 to 2005, launched a White House run with Elizabeth Edwards by his side shortly after President George W. Bush won re-election in 2004. The family practically lived in Iowa leading up to the 2008 Iowa caucus.
In 2007, the couple announced that Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer had returned after a period of remission, but they vowed to keep campaigning. John Edwards came in third in that contest behind President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
John and Elizabeth Edwards were always the poster couple for the perfect political marriage. That was the case until summer 2008 when allegations of John Edwards’ affair, originally reported in “The National Enquirer” in 2007, bubbled to the mainstream media.
In August 2008, John Edwards admitted the affair with Rielle Hunter, who had worked as a video producer in his campaign. Hunter claimed that Edwards was the father of her daughter. Just this past January, John Edwards admitted that he was the father.
John and Elizabeth Edwards have three children. Their oldest son, Wade, was killed in a car wreck in 1996.
Elizabeth Edwards, an attorney, rose to the occasion after her husband’s marital infidelity was reported. Already an established author from “Saving Graces,” a book about her battle with cancer, Edwards wrote “Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities” in May 2009.
In that book, she lashed out at Hunter and wrote that her husband should not have run for president in 2008.
For the last several years, Elizabeth Edwards has been a keen activist for women’s health care and cancer. She also opened “The Red Window” a furniture store in downtown Chapel Hill last year.
In her Facebook post on Monday, Edwards wrote, “It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day,” she wrote. “To you I simply say: you know. With love, Elizabeth.”
One lesson I’ve learned: When people feel repressed — when they feel sex is shameful — an underworld of sexual activity bubbles below the surface of society.
I discovered that reality when I wrote “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt” a few years ago. The South has always been a region of moral conservatism and Bible thumping, with churches on every corner to remind people of their shame and sin.
I was reminded of that truth when I read a recent sex survey of 5,865 men and women aged 14 to 94 that has gotten a lot of press attention. The survey, the largest nationally representative study of sexual and sexual-health behaviors ever fielded, focuses on condom use, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex and just plain old vanilla sex.
On the survey’s surface, it would appear that the United States is getting busier and bolder in the bedroom. But in the same newly published journal where the survey was featured, there was also an article by former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. She makes the point that we are still not talking about sex in a frank, healthy manner, which in my experience brews that underworld of sexual activity mentioned at the start of this piece.
Many best remember Elders for how she lost her job: she was fired by President Clinton in 1994 for voicing her politically explosive opinion that masturbation should be taught to children.
“Hiding from sexuality is not realistic when we know that humans are inherently sexual beings,” Elders more recently wrote. “A sexually healthy society must be our new goal for the 21st century.”
Just in the past few years, politicians have emerged with stories of sex and betrayal more tangled than soap opera plots. There was John Edward’s double-life revelation with a secret baby and sex video, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s Argentina soul mate. In Louisiana, Senator David Vitter, who is running for re-election, got caught up in a prostitution scandal. So did New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, who reinvented himself as a CNN show host.
But true to form, politicians seldom address sex except to apologize for it. They just brush it under the carpet or twist it for political gain in a campaign to shame the other side.
Most recent case in point: Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul’s flashing back to the 1990s and lobbing a reminder to everyone about Bill Clinton’s dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.
“I’m not sure I would trust a guy who had had sexual relations with an intern,” Paul said on Monday after Clinton made a campaign appearance in Kentucky for Paul’s opponent. “I mean, do you think he’s an honorable person?” Oops, Rand Paul, your age may be showing. The Lewinsky scandal happened when today’s new voter was in first grade.
The recent sex survey indicates oral sex is no longer the taboo that it was in 1998 when the Lewinsky scandal brought the topic into America’s living rooms. Perhaps Bill Clinton is to blame — or thank, depending on your mindset — for the increase in oral sex, especially among teens.
According to the survey, teenagers of both sexes are indulging in oral sex at young ages — among 14- and 15-year-olds, 9 percent of boys said they’ve engaged in oral sex. That number more than doubles to 20 percent among 16- to 17-year-olds. The numbers are higher among girls. Thirteen percent of girls age 14 to 15 have performed oral sex, as have 29 percent of girls 16 to 17. Sixty-one percent are oral sex veterans by the time boys and girls graduate high school and enter college.
Another long-time taboo that’s clashing with reality is homosexuality in the military and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In the national survey, 7 percent of women and 8 percent of men identified themselves as non-heterosexual. Five percent of women identified as lesbian or bisexual and nearly 7 percent of men identified as gay or bisexual. Still, the issue of gays in the military remains controversial.
That controversial act that tainted Elders’ career seems so tame now. Yes, teenagers still do it. Researchers found that masturbation is still the prevalent sexual behavior of teens. And they don’t outgrow it, most adults – male and female – masturbate regularly.
Elders’ drama created such a notorious ruckus back in the good old 1990s. It seems almost quaint now that politicians use such descriptive words as “whore” and “slut” about their opponents and to describe their own pasts. These days, some bold congressional candidates – Krystal Ball is the best known – opt to face their racy pasts with directness instead of denial.
But Krystal Ball is the exception in a world where politicians are — and may always be — behind the curve when it comes to evolving standards of sexual morality.
Both Democrats and Republicans will continue to thump the tub for a return to the good old days of fidelity and modesty. But they live in a country – as the sex survey proves – where people across all age groups have sex before marriage, engage in sexual acts other than intercourse which many enjoy for pleasure and not just procreation
Until we are honest enough to embrace that reality, we’ll continue to behave like so many do in the South, where I live — seemingly pure on the surface, oh-so tawdry on underneath.
America is a country, thankfully, that loves sex and political power.
Think it’s a modern phenomenon? Hardly. The country’s Founding Fathers pioneered it. Take an event that happened during this month more than 200 years ago.
On Sept. 1, 1802, the “Richmond Recorder” published a piece about Thomas Jefferson and his mistress, a slave simply known as “Sally.” At the time, Jefferson was temporarily retired from politics and was spending a great amount of time on his Virginia plantation, Monticello.
But he had collected an army of enemies, and they knew Jefferson liked to indulge in hanky panky. Enter James Callendar, an Andrew Breitbart for the Jefferson era, who liked to stir the pot with pamphlets and newspapers. Jefferson and Callendar once had a cozy relationship. In the 1790s, Jefferson and his Republican cronies secretly funded Callendar to attack the Federalists. But then Callendar got mad at Jefferson.
Callendar wanted Jefferson to appoint him postmaster of Richmond. Jefferson refused. As a result, Callendar put Jefferson into his crosshairs. He wrote that Jefferson “keeps and for many years has kept, as his concubine, one of his slaves. Her name is Sally.”
He also said that Sally’s son was named Tom. In the “Richmond Recorder,” Callendar wrote, that Tom’s features “are said to bear a striking although sable resemblance to those of the president himself. The boy is ten or twelve years of age.”
Callendar responded a month later to the sharp criticism he faced. “We are surprised at the petulance of some eastern editors in still affecting to doubt the truth of Sally’s story. In this state, at least as far as we can learn, every body believes it,” Callendar wrote.
Jefferson was always a randy one, according to historians. He tried to seduce the close friend of his wife. While serving as a diplomat in Paris, he engaged in affairs with married women. Dalliances were as common for Jefferson as dallying with architecture and gardening. Jefferson’s supporters lashed back, smearing Callendar with allegations that he abandoned his wife, leaving her to die of a venereal disease. Ouch.
It’s been a split second since the last great political sex scandal. Don’t we need one to distract us from midterm elections, Glenn Beck’s incessant rantings and despairing economic news?
The John Edwards baby drama has settled down a bit, although a North Carolina website this week reported that Andrew Young, a former aide to Edwards and the author of a tell-all book about the former presidential candidate, has reached a deal with writer and producer Aaron Sorkin to develop a movie based on the bestseller. But will anyone watch?
Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, has sued Young over an alleged sex tape that supposedly contains footage of Edwards. Naturally, she wants it back.
Former New York Gov. Eliott Spitzer has rehabilitated himself straight to a CNN talk show with conservative writer Kathleen Parker. The show, called “Parker Spitzer,” debuts in October. Forgot what Spitzer did? In 2008, he resigned from office after The New York Times reported that he had patronized a prostitution service numerous times. But CNN is happy to help cultivate a new image for Spitzer.
The Big Mac of all modern-day political sex scandals, Bill Clinton, has even brushed his cigar-happy past under the rug to become the most sought-after Democrat on the midterm campaign trail. Sure, the jokes are still cracked about his dalliance with an intern in the Oval Office, but Democrats don’t care when the dough is rolling in. A good politician can always reinvent himself, but never truly escape the past.
Take Jefferson. He never freed Sally Hemings, but in his will, he freed five slaves from the Hemings family. In the 200 years since, the Hemings family has drawn scrutiny from academics and scientists for their kinship to Jefferson. In 1998, DNA testing linked the two families, and subsequent studies have also connected them. Modern day technology allows sex scandals to live forever. Such affairs like Jefferson’s now even get a mention on historic tours at Monticello.
Some people believe a law should exist that forbids the press from covering the private acts of public figures. Heaven forbid! America certainly would be a bored nation with even more boring media coverage. What mud would politicians sling at their opponents? Tax increases? Health care reform? Yawn. Even a G-rated sex scandal is better than none.
I say, a hearty huzzah to James Callendar. If Callendar hadn’t put ink to paper to get the passion party started in this country, presidents and their playthings may have gotten a free pass. And journalists? We would be very bored. Who knows what we might turn up with all that time on our hands? To paraphrase a saying, idle ink-stained hands are the devil’s workshop.
[Originally posted on Politics Daily Sept. 8, 2010]