While New Yorkers---and the rest of the nation---are having a hearty chuckle about Anthony Weiner and his latest psychodrama involving his nether regions, college-age women, and his porn alter ego, “Carlos Danger,” many are missing the central issue.
This spectacle is not about Weiner’s weiner. It’s about power. Getting it, keeping it, building it, leveraging it. This is why Weiner is running for Mayor of New York City---and why his wife, Huma Abedin---has joined him in perpetuating and compounding the lies told to the public while standing by her man.
Since resigning from Congress in disgrace in 2011 after his first sexting scandal was exposed by the fearless truth-seeker, the late Andrew Breitbart, Weiner and Abedin sat for lengthy, glowing profiles in The New York Times magazine, New York, and People, in which they waxed rhapsodic about his changed nature while posing for “happy family” portraits. It was all a lie then, and Abedin knew it. “We discussed all of this before Anthony decided to run for mayor,” she said on Tuesday, as she stood next to him, pretending to look sad and disappointed. The next day she was photographed in a super-cute dress and kitten heels while laughing on her cell phone. Hardly the picture of the shocked, betrayed wife.
When a male politician is caught in a sex scandal (which always raises other issues of lying, hypocrisy, and poor---if any---judgment), his spouse usually must choose between the Hillary Clinton model or the Jenny Sanford model.
In the Hillary Clinton model, the wife chooses to support the straying husband while wearing a distressed and presumably pained expression in public. She stays in the marriage as a way to serve both her personal ambition as well as their shared ambition to achieve ever-greater positions of power and influence.
In the Jenny Sanford model, the wife rejects doormat status and chooses instead distance, separation, and often, divorce. For her, empowerment and self-restoration are tied not to the achievement of external influence but to personal dignity and self-respect.
It’s no surprise that Abedin, who has served as Clinton’s closest adviser and aide for nearly two decades, would follow her mentor’s example. Suck it up in public, resist any sudden moves, and signal to the public that they should take their cues from you: if you’ve forgiven him and looked past it, so should they. And often, that strategy works. Of course, these women wished that their men had stuck to the rules of the deal: do whatever you want, just be discreet and don’t humiliate me. When the inevitable humiliation occurs, they’ve got to go to Plan B. The Hillary Clinton model.
In service to the overarching goal, Huma, like Hillary before her, has downplayed her own intellect, abilities, accomplishments, and pride in order to keep her wagon hitched to a deeply troubled man. Is this modern feminism? Hey National Organization for Women and Gloria Steinem: is this what you fought for? Just curious.
Standing by men who had committed appalling acts of deceit, betrayal and disrespect used to be a sign of Stepford Wife weakness. Proud, strong, independent women left these kinds of losers. I am woman, hear me roar! And buh-bye!
But once prominent women on the Left began sticking around, starting with Hillary Clinton, the feminists changed their tune. “Brave” was how Andrea Mitchell and Mika Brzezinski described Abedin’s choice on MSNBC. Abedin’s choice wasn’t brave. It was purely self-serving. Remember: she and Weiner have an infant son together, yet she continues to allow that child to live under the same roof as a very sick individual, endangering the child’s life. She would have been truly brave had she packed up her son and left, without knowing what the future would bring but knowing that it had to be safer and more stable than her current situation.
No, what Abedin has chosen to do has nothing to do with being brave and everything to do with rebuilding the power center she once shared with her former Congressman husband. After all, she needs a way-station until her boss becomes president. After that, all bets are off. Power-seekers go with the most powerful. President trumps Mayor, but being first lady of New York would certainly be a lovely way to spend a few years.