Willa Paskin, in Slate:
The excerpts [in the Daily News] seem... to be a kind of correction to the Stepford, "stand by your man" approach so often taken by political wives (and Elizabeth Edwards did, at least, refuse to physically stand next to her man while he made his confession and apology)—but only kind of. Edwards tells her side of the story and publicly chastises her husband ("He should not have run," she writes) but he's still her husband. Her critique has a narrow outer limit. Is writing about this better than keeping mum? Or, in a way, is it exactly the same? Is telling us all the true, clichéd things about why a person might decide to stand by her jerk that different from, or that much more informative than, silently standing by said jerk?Ugh! Why wish to be nicer? I don't understand that. The Edwardses outrageously wasted our time and distorted the presidential selection process. I assume they did it because they both lusted for political power. Let's trash them mercilessly. They need to get off the public stage. If gazing into her husband's insipid mug comforts a gravely ill woman, that's fine, but when you write a memoir, you are trying to drag us into it. Keep your intimate moments intimate or they cease to be intimate. Don't think you can command niceness from us because of your troubles. Be gone!
The News does pull out one genuinely heartbreaking quote from the book: "I lie in bed, circles under my eyes, my sparse hair sticking in too many directions, and he looks at me as if I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. It matters." And I'm sure it does matter, and yet, I can't help but wonder if the look she's describing resembles the supposedly earnest, empathetic stare Edwards utilized on the campaign trail, which some people, myself included, always found to be so disingenuous (and that turned out to be, to the extent that Edwards' ambition did trump his judgment, truly disingenuous). And then I wish I could un-think that thought, because it would be nicer to believe Elizabeth Edwards' version of things.