On Oct. 9, 2010, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, Mrs. Virginia Thomas, called Anita Hill. According to Yahoo! News, Mrs. Thomas left a voicemail for Hill stating “…I would love for you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband…” Virginia has confirmed that her message referred to Hill’s testimony at Clarence’s Senate confirmation hearings in 1991. Hill testified that Clarence had made inappropriate sexual remarks and comments in her presence when she worked as his assistant at the Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
News of the Virginia Thomas voicemail has spread like wildfire across newswires and rotated with fervor on both television newscasts and online news sites. In a time when so many political sex scandals rock the airwaves in real time, the idea that a 20-year-old scandal could still generate so much copy demonstrates that public interest in past political sex scandals can always be reawakened.
On April 29, 2010, one of the two participants in a modern day sex scandal sat down with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and aired a select amount of private details and public knowledge to the masses. Rielle Hunter is a name known to most Americans. She is the quintessential “other woman” in a political world brimming with adultery.
Hunter had an affair with presidential candidate and Senator John Edwards as he prepared for the 2008 presidential electoral cycle. The fact that she was hired to chronicle a portion of his attempts to be elected for office and ended up driving a railroad spike-sized nail into the coffin of Edwards’ political career is ironic. The fact that Edwards’ wife Elizabeth was battling breast cancer during their affair is sad. The fact that Hunter and Edwards filmed a sex tape that may or may not still exist is tabloid nirvana.
The Rielle Hunter name will still be lingering in the news 20 years from now even if the sex tape never materializes. Five presidential election cycles will come and go. Anytime there is a candidate with a hint of indiscretion in his past, Edwards and Hunter’s affair will be the benchmark for comparison. There is also another key reason this sex scandal will not have gone away 20 years into the future. The tangible proof of the affair, a lovechild, will be of full legal age on Feb. 27, 2029.
The 21st birthday of the baby girl born into the middle of the most sensational political sex scandal in recent memory is sure to thrust Hunter back into the spotlight 20-odd years after her Oprah interview, much the same way one voicemail from Virginia Thomas once again made Anita Hill national news.
Associated Press, “Thomas’ wife seeks apology from accuser Anita Hill,” Yahoo! News.
Nicholas Graham & Sam Stein, “Rielle Hunter Oprah Interview: Edwards ‘Practically Jumped In My Arms’ When They First Met”, Huffington Post.
Roger Friedman, “John Edwards’ Mess: Baby’s 1st Birthday Picture”. Fox News.