The confession manual for a politician’s mistress
There must be a handbook given out to women who have had, or claim to have had, an affair with a high-profile politician. I imagine it’s called something like The truth will set you free! Seriously, you’re fabulous and, like, totally emotionally evolved!!
It’s full of sage advice such as “stop being so utterly selfless and think of yourself for once you amazing selfless woman,” and “you could have saved him if only he knew what was good for him,” and “don’t forget your clothes flew off all by themselves.”
And I imagine at least two women interviewed this week have a well-worn copy on their bedside tables - Michelle Chantelois and Rielle Hunter.
Michelle Chantelois is the woman who says she had a relationship with South Australian premier Mike Rann (he has consistently denied any sexual relationship with her). She was interviewed on Monday by the Advertiser’s Kelly Nestor in a brilliant online video, which you can watch in segments here.
Rielle Hunter is the mother of John Edwards’s “love child” Quinn. You’ll remember Edwards attempt to win the Democratic presidential nomination spectacularly exploded at the same time Barack Obama’s fortunes soared. Hunter has done a very long, very entertaining interview with GQ, which you can read here. The whole story is so weird you couldn’t make it up.
In spite of being in very different circumstances both women spent most of the interviews sprouting very similar self-help gobbledy-gook about “closure”, “moving on”, “truth”, “empowerment” and helping these men who are struggling with confronting the issues.
They might live on opposite sides of the world - but they clearly graduated from the same emotional finishing school with honours in self-absorption.
Here’s some highlights:
Hunter: [On the first time they met, after her first words to Edwards were “you’re so hot”.] I said I could help him. Which I really believed I could. And quite frankly—well, depending on your perspective, I really have ... Yeah. So I said, “I can help you.” And he said, “I want your help. I need your help.” ... I could help him see who he is instead of what he’s not. The person standing in front of me was not the person they were selling, or his public persona. He was completely opposite from his public persona ... I used to make a joke that I could have helped save the world, but I had to sleep with him. You know? It was kind of like that.
Chantelois: [On what she’s doing now, aside from a whole heap of public commentary on next Saturday’s SA Election] I’ve got goals that I’ve set out for myself, goals for personal growth in certain areas. Probably the last month I’ve been doing a little bit of studying, just to occupy my mind as well, and I’m just taking the time to let things settle, and to calm down in my life before I can go out there and begin working, and creating a normal life again. So I’m just happy to sit back at the moment, and relax and absorb it all.
Hunter: [On reconciling being involved in infidelity] Before I met Johnny, I had a lot of judgment about infidelity. Now I have a much deeper and greater understanding and acceptance of people’s processes. It’s hard and complicated for a lot of people to pull the Band-Aid off, so to speak. So I did have problems with it. Many. But once again, the force field of our love overrode any issues that would arise from my belief systems about, you know, “It should be going different than it is. He should be behaving differently than he is.”
Chantelois: [On how her kids dealt with her public confession] I’ve always asked them for permission to make sure they’re OK with what I was going to begin doing at a public level. And I made sure they understood it, and they were my number one priority, and for as long as I had their support I continued on. And they were my strength, they were my rock.
Hunter: [On Edwards’s wife Elizabeth] Oh, my God, I have such compassion for her. I really do. I mean, especially when you have terminal cancer… I watched my father die of cancer. It’s heart-wrenching to me. But it’s also sad to me, her unwillingness to take responsibility for her part in the marriage. And her unwillingness to face the truth. We’re all slaves to our unconscious, but she really believes that it’s everyone else’s fault. And that’s heart-wrenching to me, too.
Chantelois: For Mike Rann I actually feel very sorry for him because I know that I’ve dealt with the issue, I’ve confronted it. He hasn’t, he’s not dealing with it, he hasn’t confronted it. He’s going to struggle with his marriage.
Hunter: I feel comfortable talking now, because Johnny went public and made a statement admitting paternity. I didn’t feel like I could ever speak until he did that. Because had I spoken, I would have emasculated him. And I could not emasculate him. Also, it is not my desire to teach my daughter that when Mommy’s upset with Daddy, you take matters into your own hands and fix Daddy’s mistakes. Which I view as one of the biggest problems in all female-and-male relationships.
Chantelois: I was the voice for my family. I was the person who was giving my family the freedom to move forward.
Hunter: He in fact did say to me the first night, “Falling in love with you could really fuck up my plans for becoming President.” And of course I said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Chantelois: Enough damage has been done. My family has been through enough as it is, and I stopped the lies.
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