Politics & Policy

The Jerk Factor

From Clinton to Spitzer to Edwards.

What is it with these guys? Bill and Eliot and now John, especially John. They have smart, capable wives who have been doing what they were supposed to do for years, helping their careers, having their children, telling the world what wonderful husbands they have. And the guys turn around and do them dirt — with a selection of females not one-tenth as interesting as the women who have stood by their side.

I know there are all sorts of explanations. The guilty creep is a narcissist who craves constant adulation, and narcissism, after all, is a personality disorder. (One, I might add, that afflicts almost all boldface names these days.) Or he, underneath it all, underneath that $1,200 suit and that $400 haircut, is really just so terribly insecure. Or his mother and his grandmother fought over him and tried to smother him with too much grasping love. Wasn’t that Hillary’s once-upon-a-time explanation about why Bill strayed and strayed? But let’s just ignore all the claptrap excuses, please, and concentrate on the facts. These guys are just plain jerks.

Oh, I know it was Hillary’s ambition that made her forgive and forget. And as for Silda Spitzer, I suppose, if your husband visits hookers you can at least say none of them ever told Steamroller Eliot who kept his socks on that he was comparable to Mahatma Gandhi. I’m sure Kristen, his $2,000 tryst of choice, might have made some comparisons but not to a “transformational leader.”

No, John really picked up the doozy of a floozy when he met Rielle Hunter, formerly Lisa Druck, and yes, I can guess why she changed her name, can’t you? Rielle, who is 42, likes to tell gullible guys she has had “many lives.” In one that she definitely did live, she was a girlfriend of novelist Jay McInerney. He based a character in his novel The Story of My Life on her because, he told the New York Post, her behavior “intrigued and appalled me.” The character is described as “cocaine-addled” and “sexually voracious.” Not exactly the perfect characteristics for the discreet mistress of a man running for president who wants to lecture the country on moral issues.

Jonathan Darman of Newsweek also got to know Rielle, when she was chasing and being chased by Edwards. On the campaign trail, she told Darman she was an actress and a spiritual adviser, devoted to astrology, and thought Edwards had the “power to change the world.” Uh-huh. She also confided to Darman that Elizabeth Edwards, the smart, gracious, cancer- stricken wife, did not have “good energy.” And after Elizabeth, who is obviously also smart, got Rielle fired from her “who-are-you-kidding” job filming Webisodes of John, she hissed to Darman, “Someday the truth about her is going to come out.” By the way, Darman, Newsweek’s senior writer and political correspondent, confesses that he “liked” Rielle and let her do his astrological chart. Gee, what sign are you, Jonathan? Can I guess?

In what other way is John (like Eliot and Bill) a member of the jerk fraternity? Maybe in the most important way: They are all so self-delusional they believe their tawdry little escapades will not come out. And so they pick women who neither can nor want to keep quiet. John made his “terrible mistake” with a self-promoter who wanted to pitch a television show about women who help men get out of failing marriages by having affairs with them; she even had her own blog. Don’t these dummies know that if there is one piece of incriminating evidence about any public figure lying on a road on the outskirts of Bowbells, North Dakota, two reporters would bang heads bending over to pick it up? One of them, no doubt, and to his credit, would work for the National Enquirer. And the other would be a blogger.

Elizabeth Edwards is a woman who lost a teenage son and with great effort had two more children in her late forties, and now is battling an incurable cancer. She has been a loyal wife, standing up and now standing by her man. John, didn’t you even notice as you were cheating on her that Reille Hunter is simply a dingbat?

Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.

Myrna BlythMyrna Blyth is senior vice president and editorial director of AARP Media. She is the former editor-in-chief and publishing director of Ladies’ Home Journal. She was the founding editor and ...


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