Debra J. Saunders

Elizabeth Edwards always seemed like the yin -- a genuine human being -- to her smarmy husband's too-slick yang. No more. With the release of her memoir "Resilience" and self-flagellation book tour about her life with her cheating hubby, Mrs. E now seems about as believable as her husband. That is: Add the prefix "un."

No one should expect the wife of a man with Edwards' hobbies to be completely forthcoming -- which is why she never should have written the book. Unless she had decided to show him the door -- or if she had come out and said that she loves the $400 haircut and that's that -- the memoir was bound to disappoint.

Lacking the stomach to read the tell-little tell-all, I get my quotes from Elizabeth Edwards' appearance on "Oprah" last week. Mrs. E. presented a hard-to-swallow story about her husband's confession about his relations with a single woman that seems carefully calibrated to protect what is left of the couple's political credibility.

How could the fiercely partisan Elizabeth have told Democrats to support her husband for president when she knew that, if he won, news of the affair likely would have killed her party's chances for victory in 2008?

Timing is everything in such matters. So the Edwards' story is that he cheated when her cancer was in remission. (Sadly, it has returned with a vengeance.) And: She did not know about the affair when Edwards announced his White House bid in December 2006. He told her two days after the announcement. By then the deed was done, although she did tell him she wanted to end the campaign.

He said he did it "only one time" -- so it doesn't look that bad that Elizabeth kept talking up John Edwards as if he were Husband of the Year.

"I think he's as surprised by his behavior as I am by his behavior," Edwards told Oprah Winfrey. Hard to believe, since Edwards also said that she asked her husband to be as faithful as a wedding gift. That's not the request of a woman who trusts her man.

Why did he cheat? Winfrey asked. On the talk-show circuit, the urge is strong to feed the notion that men cheat for some deeper reason other than sex. Or, as happens, affection. Or because they think they can get away with it.

Debra J. Saunders

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