Edwards aide Young damns boss in tell-all

Candidate reportedly talked about leaving wife, made sex tape, generally exceeded all known bounds of narcissism

By Gabriel Winant
Published January 27, 2010 3:15PM (EST)

Every time you hope the John Edwards circus will fold and never be heard from again, someone figures out how to keep the big top up a little longer. (To be clear, this is one of those scary, surreal and sad circuses. Not the fun stuff.)

The latest turn: a book is about to come out by Andrew Young, John Edwards’ former all-purpose manservant, who was set up to be his boss' fall guy in the Rielle Hunter sex scandal. Young was once fanatically devoted to Edwards, and for a period claimed that he was the father of Hunter’s child.

Embittered by the experience, Young turned on his former boss and wrote the tell-all, "The Politician." According to the the Wall Street Journal, which obtained a copy, Young details how Edwards asked him to go into hiding with Hunter, to spare the dying Elizabeth Edwards the pain of knowing about her husband’s infidelity. Young quotes Edwards saying, "I know you're mad at her, Andrew, but I love her. I can't let her die knowing this." However, Young claims, Edwards also toyed with the idea of leaving his wife. Supposedly, the candidate described her as "crazy," but believed -- not altogether incorrectly -- that she played better with voters than he did.

Young’s book also elaborates on the now-dominant theme of Edwards as a narcissist on an epic scale. If half of what the book says is true, the candidate’s obsession with his appearance was, if anything, underestimated during the campaign. Preoccupied with the appearance of his hair and his weight, he scorned state fairgoers as "rednecks" who would try to force feed him. According to Young, Edwards delivered one line that seems a bit too perfect: "I know I’m the people’s senator, but do I have to hang out with them?"

And, as if to demonstrate the very height of self-absorption – and straight gross-ness – Young claims that Edwards and a pregnant Hunter made a sex tape. He describes seeing the video as "like watching a traffic pileup occur in slow motion -- it was repelling but also transfixing."

Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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