In today’s NY Times there’s an article about Elizabeth Edward’s role in her husband’s presidential campaign prompted, in part, by her call into Hardball with Chris Matthews when Ann Coulter was a guest. The article talks about her “free operator” status in her husband’s presidential campaign, as evidenced by her willingness and freedom in speaking publicly and sometimes impulsively. For example, when she spoke at a San Francisco pride event last week she stated that she was in favor of gay marriage. Allegedly, John Edwards found out about this statement after-the-fact.
The first real attention that I paid to Elizabeth Edwards was when she was interviewed by Diane Rhem on NPR when she was promoting her book, Saving Graces. I should preface this by saying that I listen to NPR almost all day, 5 days a week without discretion. I usually don’t care who is being interviewed or why. As in this case, this often results in my becoming interested in things and people I might not otherwise have been, and to my benefit. Elizabeth Edwards spoke with such wit, wisdom, and insightfulness about her life. It was very impressive. She was composed but not in such a way that her humanity didn’t show through.
In the NY Times article today, it states that, “her friends suggest…” that her role in her husband’s campaign, i.e. her being her own figure within it, “reflects the clarity and perspective that come from her cancer diagnosis”, as well as her “increasingly confident political instincts”. After my own cancer diagnosis, I understand, at least to some degree, the way that change happens. The desire to cut through the bullshit. The desire to not waste time that might be limited. The confidence of stating feelings and following that up with actions that one might not have previously taken. With her newly metastatic status, I can only imagine that these feelings might be heightened for her. You may recall an interview with her published in Newsweek earlier this year where she said, “I’m not praying for God to save me.” To say that publicly, from her position, takes some confidence.
At the same time, it’s not as if her experiences have created an entirely new person. Those elements of her personality which are so clear now and benefit not only her, but her husband’s campaign, had to have been there all along. As she is quoted in today’s article, “There’s a reason to talk to me separately: You’re paying more attention to me, but I was always sitting there in the corner.”