By Columnist Susan Estrich
Yes, the beautiful and brilliant former aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, in a role she certainly never sought, has been playing “The Good Wife” on cable news.
Her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner, is the one who is actually running for mayor of New York City, which is itself something of a minor miracle considering he was hounded from Congress just two short years ago after he was caught in a “sexting” scandal (texting nude photos of himself to women he met online) while his then pregnant new wife was working 100-hour weeks for Clinton.
“It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony,” Abedin said at a news conference this week.
But she did, apparently. They posed for a New York Times Magazine cover, which was what we used to call a “wet kiss,” that became the launching pad for his entry into the mayor’s race. With his war chest already full from pre-scandal donations and with his wife by his side – along with the usual claims that he had changed and grown and the like – he immediately became a contender.
But therapy has its limits. This week, the gossip site TheDirty.com quoted a 22-year-old woman saying Weiner approached her online 13 months after he resigned from Congress, using the alias “Carlos Danger” to send “penis pictures.” According to the site, the young woman and Weiner shared nude pictures of themselves and had phone sex. They stayed in touch until the end of 2012 (she claims he offered her a job and an apartment), and then he got back in touch with her this April (one month before entering the mayor’s race) to ask her what she thought of his reactivated Facebook page.
There was enough truth to the accusations to force Weiner to hold a news conference on Tuesday, with Huma by his side, to admit that he’d had (another) inappropriate relationship, which he certainly knew when he got into the race in May. But it didn’t stop him then, and it isn’t stopping him now.
And then he turned the mike over to Huma.
“So really what I want to say is: I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”
As for Weiner, this was his line: “There is no question that what I did was wrong. This behavior is behind me.”
Here’s my problem, and my guess is I’m not alone: I believe Huma. I believe she loves him and has forgiven him, or she wouldn’t be standing next to him.
I wish her only the best – particularly because I don’t believe a word that came out of her husband’s mouth.
When the scandal first broke two years ago, Weiner lied. He repeatedly denounced the story and attacked those who were asking questions he didn’t want to answer. Only when he was trapped by his lies did he finally ‘fess up. And of course, he claimed it was over, he learned his lesson, never again, all the rest. All lies.
While he was doing all of that work and all of that therapy with his wife, he was also back at it, sending pictures of his genitals to a 22-year-old.
I don’t pretend to understand what it is that Weiner gets out of such a relationship, much less why it’s worth risking his marriage and career. That part isn’t my business: Weiner’s sex life is properly his business and that of his wife.
But his judgment is another matter.
I’ve spent my life in politics, which is full – on both sides of the aisle – of arrogant men who think the rules don’t apply to them and are used to getting rescued by the wives they take for granted. But Weiner really takes the cake.
So I’m with Huma. When she’s ready to go, I’m there. In the meantime, her husband needs to start practicing being a supportive husband. He clearly has a long way to go.