The first time I laid eyes on , I could tell she was a story. She had frizzy blond hair with DARK roots, wore bright nail polish and moved like someone who knew how to work a room.Huh? This made me a little suspicious of Darman. So what if her hair was frizzy and she wore bright nail polish? Lots of boring people do. And there's nothing amazing about dark roots. Why do you appear to be FREAKING OUT about it?
She was on a cramped commuter flight and she was flirting with a candidate for president of the United States. It was July 7, 2006.I'm still not seeing it. Women flirt with the male candidates all the time.
Most of the other passengers seemed to have no idea who Edwards was. But this blond woman, putting away her bags, was visibly captivated by him.One person recognizes a celebrity and others don't. The one that does is way more excited than the others. But in fact, Edwards and Hunter were already having an affair, and Darman is showing off — now — that he smelled something fishy back then. But give the man credit. He noticed, and he talked to her:
She told me her name and asked me what my astrological sign was, which I thought was a little unusual. I told her. She smiled, and began telling me her life story: how she was working as a documentary-film maker, living with a friend in South Orange, N.J., but how she'd previously had "many lives." She'd worked, she said, as an actress and as a spiritual adviser. She was fiercely devoted to astrology and New Age spirituality. She'd been a New York party girl, she'd been married and divorced, she'd been a seeker and a teacher and was a firm believer in the power of truth.All right, then! We know a little more about John Edwards's judgment.
She told me that she had met Edwards at a bar, at the Regency Hotel in New York. She thought he was giving off a special "energy."Blech. Energy. The buzzword of idiots.
Four months later, Rielle emailed Darman offering him a story. They meet for lunch at a restaurant in NYC and — shocking! — she's into drinking wine and is being smoochily friendly.
She told me that she'd felt a connection to me when we'd first met, that she could tell I was a very old soul. This meant a lot to Rielle.Oh, did it? Sounds like one of her lines — along with what's your sign, sensing your energy, and feeling a connection.
At this point, I go looking for a picture of Darman. Well, damn! I feel a connection, sense his energy, and — sure — detect that he's an old soul. Let's meet for lunch and wine in SoHo, Jonathan.
Her speech was peppered with New Age jargon—human beings were dragged down by "blockages" to their actual potential; history was the story of souls entering and escaping our field of consciousness. A seminal book for her had been Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now." Her purpose on this Earth, she said, was to help raise awareness about all this, to help the unenlightened become better reflections of their true, repressed selves.So I guess we know the seduction routine she aimed at Edwards — who perhaps got to thinking that Elizabeth was a blockage.
Her latest project was John Edwards. Edwards, she said, was an old soul who had barely tapped into any of his potential. The real John Edwards, she believed, was a brilliant, generous, giving man who was driven by competing impulses—to feed his ego and serve the world. If he could only tap into his heart more, and use his head less, he had the power to be a "transformational leader" on par with Gandhi and Martin Luther King. "He has the power to change the world," she said.To feed his ego and serve the world. Ha. Note how that chimes with Edwards's self-analysis (in the "Nightline" interview):
Ego. Self-focus, self-importance... a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You're invincible. And there will be no consequences. And nothing, nothing could be further from the truth.But the frizzy-haired energy lady said I could remove blockages, release my old soul, and serve the world....
Back to Darman:
"Do you talk about this stuff with the candidate?" I asked. "All the time," Rielle replied. "I'll lecture him on it when he's getting too much up in here," she said, gesturing toward her head.And not enough down here, she said, pointing to her crotch. (Kidding!)
"He'll see a look on my face and say, 'Yes, I know, Rielle, "Power of Now" says …' " Rielle wanted me to know all these things because she wanted me to write about them.Oh, yeah, I forgot. There was no confessing to the sexual relationship here. She was trying to get the news out to the world that John Edwards would make a great President, with his old soulfulness and his ability — encouraged by Hunter — to get through the blockages and release his powers that are somewhere other than in his head.
Even if they didn't have an affair, we should question his judgment in wanting to put up with listening to this bullshit and, certainly, in wanting her to film a documentary about him.
After Hunter is fired, she tells Darman she's working with novelist Jay McInerney "on a 'genius' idea for a television show about women who help men get out of failing marriages by having affairs with them." She also says she's in love but won't say with whom. When the National Enquirer starts writing about the affair, she calls Darman for advice and seems to be trying to pressure him to think that he can't use all the material she'd given him. He refuses — it was never off the record — and she stops talking to him. Darman opines that she must have been "saddened" to realize he'd always been a reporter when she thought he was her friend — I'm sure he's read "The Journalist and the Murderer" — but I would guess that she was using him as a media connection all along and that she was now, on stern advice from Edwards, doing what she could to keep him from writing anything that would corroborate The National Enquirer.
So now I have "a 'genius' idea for a television show about a woman" who has an affair with a presidential candidate and who befriends a reporter — leading to all sorts of complexities about whether the woman is falling for the reporter, looking to him as a friend, or — most likely — massaging him into writing stories promoting the interests of the candidate. The woman travels with the campaign in the guise of a film documentarian, so our show can use her badly done and embarrassingly revealing video clips as a narrative device — in the manner of "The Office" or "The Comeback." And maybe her real job — for which she deserves the money that seems thrown away on her as a filmmaker — is to hand-feed favorable stories to reporters. Our adorable reporter tries to do his job as he teeters between falling for her and figuring out what is going on.
Email me, Jay. Lunch in SoHo?
UPDATE: The complicated story continues.