At a press conference Tuesday following revelations of (more) lascivious Internet messages Anthony Weiner sent (some under the nom de porn Carlos Danger), Huma Abedin took to the podium in her husband’s defense. She spoke eloquently and movingly. She persuasively answered our biggest questions, both the one that isn’t really our business—why in the name of hell do you stay with this schmuck?—and one that is—why in the name of hell do you want to subject the rest of us to this schmuck?
There isn’t a transcript available yet, and I was too transfixed and oblivious of myself to take notes during this proverbial train wreck. But basically, she said that she determined that it was best for her, her marriage, and her child to stay together. It all seemed perfectly valid. And the Twitterati seemed to agree: My feed lit up with variations on a theme I have been seeing since Weiner announced his mayoral candidacy in late May—Huma is great; I love Huma; it should be Huma. As in: Weiner is the worst, and, relatedly, Abedin is the best.
Sorry, but no. Abedin spoke at her husband’s press conference (it was reportedly her idea, in fact), among the most important events of his political career, in the service of getting him elected mayor. This doesn’t mean you can’t agree with what she said. (Besides, to the extent that she was speaking about her decision to remain married to Weiner, it isn’t really our business.) But at least listen to what she said! She said her husband should be elected mayor! You do not get to trash his candidacy and praise hers. Want to support Huma? Then vote for Anthony!
Maybe Abedin should be mayor. Maybe she should be President Hillary Clinton’s chief-of-staff. Maybe she should divorce Weiner and marry someone better, like Eliot Spitzer. Or maybe she should be First Lady of New York City. But to deny that she is in the same boat as her husband as far as his political ambitions are concerned is to believe she is incapable of making informed decisions for herself. I doubt that is how her admirers feel.
People contain multitudes, and no people may contain more multitudes than wives of politicians who are unfaithful husbands. Elizabeth Edwards was an important advocate for health care reform who also supported her husband’s second presidential run, which, had he won the Democratic nomination, would likely have landed us with President John McCain. It sometimes seems that Hillary Clinton, like in a game of Frogger, moved feminism four steps forward, and then five steps back, and then nine steps forward—and her story isn’t over yet.
Abedin’s story isn’t over yet, either. But in this chapter, she is shilling for her husband to become mayor. If you have a problem with that, then you have a problem with her.