Next week, a new book will debut to what should be fairly brisk sales – at least, if some of the leaked highlights are any indication of what’s in its pages.
The book’s author is Andrew Young, who spent a decade as a personal assistant to disgraced 2004 Democrat vice-presidential nominee John Edwards. Edwards, a successful ambulance chaser who parlayed a personal fortune in the scores of millions into a Senate seat in North Carolina and three tepid presidential runs with class warfare as his message, is portrayed as the personification of public evil in Young’s tell-all “The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal that Brought Him Down.”
The book seems full of bombshell accusations about Edwards, who basically conscripted Young into running interference for his extramarital affairs with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, who Edwards only recently admitted bore him a child out of wedlock while he was running for president in 2008 in the midst of his wife’s battle against cancer. Among those disclosed by the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire are:
Donations: “S–t, they love me — they would do anything for me,” John Edwards would say after getting a big donation, Young writes. If refused, he would say, “What the hell — why are they wasting my time? I’m going to be president. I don’t have time for this s–t. Everyone wants to give me advice. I don’t want their advice. I want their money.”
Made in USA: Young says Edwards is an Atkins-dieter who hated making appearances at state fairs where “fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I’m the people’s senator, but do I have to hang out with them?” Before a SEIU candidate forum in Las Vegas, Young says Edwards made him cut out a “made in the USA” label from Young’s own suit to sew in place of Edwards’s “made in Italy” label.
Edwards’ hair: “Naturally thick and lustrous, his hair was a fixation with him. He insisted on using just one kind of shampoo — HairTec Thick & Strong Shampoo for Fine, Fragile Hair,” Young writes. He says that for years he or Edwards personally paid for the expensive haircuts rather than publicly list them as campaign expenses. He blamed the gaffe – Edward’s campaign committee picked up the tab for two $400 haircuts — on “new, inexperienced staff.”
A confrontation: Shortly after John Edwards and Hunter returned from a trip to Uganda in 2006, Elizabeth Edwards answered a cell phone call to hear Hunter who “launched into a romantic monologue,” Young writes. According to Young’s account, Elizabeth confronted her husband who “confessed to having had a one-night stand but didn’t say with whom.” He called Hunter in front of his wife to end it, but later called her back to say he didn’t mean it.
Thoughts of leaving: Young says that Edwards would confide in him about how he thought about leaving “crazy” Elizabeth, but how she plays better with American voters than he. “I cringed when he said this,” Young writes.
Time together: While Elizabeth was on a book tour for “Saving Graces,” Hunter allegedly spent time at the Edwards home. Young writes that Hunter slept in their bed and entertained the children. He also writes that he listened as Edwards told her that one day they would form their own family and have a wedding where the Dave Matthews Band would play.
Hotel reservations: Keeping the affair running throughout the campaign wasn’t easy. “When I knew where the senator was staying, I made reservations in my own name, faxed copies of my credit card and state identification card, and told the hotel staff that my ‘wife’ would be checking in on my account,” Young writes. He said he paid for much of Hunter’s expenses out of his pocket, and Edwards promised reimbursement when they found wealthy campaign donors or when Elizabeth died and he no longer had to cover up such costs. “I’ll take care of you, Andrew,” he quotes Edwards as saying. “You know I’m good for it.”
Incurable cancer: Elizabeth Edwards said publicly that she discovered her cancer had returned shortly after a rib broke from a strong hug from her husband. Young writes that she broke her rib while she was moving boxes and her husband was in Iowa planning a tryst for Hunter’s birthday. Young writes that Edwards got the call and hurried home – and sent flowers to his angry mistress.
Hunter’s pregnancy: According to Young, Hunter called him in May 2007 to say she was pregnant. Young says that when he informed Edwards, the senator told him to “handle it,” to which he replied: “I can’t handle this one.” Young writes that Edward unloaded on Hunter as a “crazy slut,” said they had an “open relationship,” and put his paternity chances at “one in three.” Young says that Edwards asked him for help persuading Hunter to have an abortion. Young writes that Hunter believed the baby to be “some kind of golden child, the reincarnated spirit of a Buddhist monk who was going to help save the world.”
A move: Right before the Iowa debate, Young says Edwards asked him to take his family and Hunter and move away – all on the dime of trial lawyer friend Fred Baron. On Dec. 15, 2007, Young released a statement claiming paternity. Baron died in October 2008.
The decision to hide: Young writes that Edwards promised “He would make sure I had a job in the future,” and told him: “You’re family. A friend like no friend I’ve ever had.” Young goes on to say that Edwards concluded “that if I helped him, I would make Mrs. Edwards’s dying days a bit easier. ‘I know you’re mad at her, Andrew, but I love her. I can’t let her die knowing this.’”
Young, obviously, is no longer a member of the Edwards camp; to date they haven’t commented on what’s in the book. He says he can back up most of his allegations with voicemails and e-mails; based on what we already know about Edwards, it’s unlikely anything Young might have to say about his old boss would come as much of a surprise to the public.