Keeping It Rielle
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: August 9, 2008
Maureen Dowd is no fan of John Edwards, the former candidate that admitted to having an affair with Rielle Hunter, and the bitterness goes back nearly a decade. With this recent revelation killing his campaign career permanently, Dowd gives his sex sex scandal an eviscerating post-mortem.
Eschewing her usual rhetorical excesses, she just goes for sarcastic this week. Most galling to her is his insistence that his adultery is not as despicable as it could have been because at least his wife was not currently in chemotherapy treatment when the affair occured.
The creepiest part of his creepy confession was when he stressed to Woodruff that he cheated on Elizabeth in 2006 when her cancer was in remission. His infidelity was oncologically correct.Like many of Dowd’s Rude Names®, Breck Girl was originated not by her, but by an anonymous Bush campaign troll that unleashed it into the wild where it took root in Maureen’s stack of useful emasculating tropes. Here it is in its first appearance from June 2003:
But the Breck Girl wants a gold star for the fact that he sent his marriage into remission when his wife was in remission. That’s special.
[T]he Breck Girl, as the Bushies call John Edwards, merely musters limp trash talk: ''Mr. President: Bring it on.''In June of 2004, she winces at the Republican habit of trying to effeminize their opponents:
I've been struck by the nasty Republican habit of portraying opponents as less than fully masculine. They called John Edwards the ''Breck girl'' and John Kerry French-looking.Later in the 2004 campaign, in a hatchet piece on Theresa Heinz, she once again carries the Republicans' water with this whithering aside in a colunmn titled 'Breck Girl Takes on Dr. No' (with the Dr. No reference to Dick Cheney counting as our retro-classic Movies With Maureen® this week):
The Breck Girl is already getting under the Boy King's thin skin.In 2006, she again pinned the blame for the nickname on the hormonal Bushies:
President Bush should have easily knocked a question about Mr. Edwards -- nicknamed the Breck Girl by Bush officials -- out of the park. But he whiffed.
In 2000 and 2004, G.O.P. gunslingers played into the Western myth and mined images of manliness, feminizing Al Gore as a Beta Tree-Hugger, John Kerry as a Waffling War Wimp With a Hectoring Wife and John Edwards as his true bride, the Breck Girl.Perhaps John Edwards never really had much hope of having a second chance at the number two slot on the ticket. A year and half ago, Maureen hinted that Barack was disdainful of the preternaturally attractive Edwards:
[Obama] has been known to privately mock “pretty boys” (read John Edwards, the Breck Girl of 2004).Edwards 2008 campaign floundered badly, and revelations of his high-priced grooming habits didn't help. Maureen Dowd tore into him for an entire column and made reference to the viral video that she name checks this week as well.
Following his star turn primping his hair for two minutes on a YouTube video to the tune of “I Feel Pretty,” Mr. Edwards this week had to pay back the $800 charged to his campaign for two shearings at Torrenueva Hair Designs in Beverly Hills. He seems intent on proving that he is a Breck Girl — and a Material Boy.She ended that column with this prediction:
All the haircuts in the world may not save John Edwards from a blowout.A blowout seems to be the least of what Edwards got from Rielle. Dowd hits on their semi-professional relationship that should have raised red flags at the time but is now excruciatingly painful in hindsight.
In one of the Web films Hunter directed, he actually flirts with the blonde, laughingly telling her that his address on morality is “a great speech” and complaining, “Why don’t you hear me give it live?”That video is full of retrospectively ironic lines (and some very uncomfortable wide-stance crotch shots), but Dowd singles out this example.
In the Hunter video titled “Plane Truths,” Edwards is relaxing on his plane, telling the out-of-frame director: “I’ve come to the personal conclusion that I actually want the country to see who I am, who I really am, but I don’t know what the result of that will be. But for me personally, I’d rather be successful or unsuccessful based on who I really am, not based on some plastic Ken doll that you put up in front of audiences.” Ken couldn’t have said it better.The Ken doll quote brings up some bad blood between Dowd and Edwards.
Back in 2002, Edwards sent me a Ken doll dressed in bathing trunks, Rio de Janeiro Ken, with a teasing note, because he didn’t like my reference to him as a Ken doll in a column.That column was a brief aside in a longer piece about how Democrats need to toughen up their foreign policy.
As the Democratic Ken doll John Edwards flew off to Europe to meet with NATO officials -- the CliffsNotes version of foreign policy credentials -- John Kerry tried to shed his Ken-doll skin with a big speech in Cleveland, following his announcement that he's running.So you can feel the venom when Maureen closes the column with this parting shot:
In retrospect, the comparison was not fair — to Ken.That's right Maureen, just wash that man right out of your hair.