It’s not often that one finds the opinion on a politician echoed in the pages of the New York Times and the New York Post on the same day. Politicians like Anthony Weiner don’t come around every day, however–something voters should count as a blessing. Female political analysts and amateurs alike have had strong and remarkably similar responses to the performance given by Huma Abedin at her husband’s press conference Wednesday, convened to respond to new reports of online extramarital contact with young women.
While initially quite sympathetic to Abedin when the allegations first arose last year, the tide of public opinion has taken a sharp turn this time around. What changed? In yesterday’s New York Post Karol Markowicz explains:
What makes Huma Abedin different isn’t that she stood by her man, while pregnant, as he publicly disgraced their marriage, and lied about it repeatedly while blaming the same “vast right-wing conspiracy” as Hillary.
No, Abedin took it a step further. She didn’t want him to resign, according to what Anthony Weiner later told The New York Times — plus, she encouraged him to jump into the mayoral race.
Mind you, from what the couple now tells us, she knew when she was pushing him to run that he’d kept up the sexting for months and months after he left Congress.
And, as the two were plotting his political comeback, Abedin posed for soft-focus People Magazine photos painting the picture of a happy family that had moved on from Weiner’s indiscretions.
Moved on? Shortly after their publication, he sent new pictures of his privates to new women.
On Tuesday, Weiner was telling everyone that he told Abedin everything. Was he lying again, or has she known all along? If she has, then when she told People, “Anthony has spent every day since [the scandal] trying to be the best dad and husband he can be,” she was lying.
And if she wasn’t lying then, she’s lying now, because she’s backing his claim that he told her everything.
During her prepared speech Abedin remarked, “I do very strongly believe that that is between us and our marriage.” Awkward phrasing aside, Abedin couldn’t be more wrong. A new poll from NBC 4 New York, the Wall Street Journal, and Marist showed that the lead that Weiner once enjoyed in the race has disappeared, with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn now garnering 25 percent of the support of the city’s Democrats compared to 16 percent for Weiner. Last month the same poll showed Weiner leading Quinn by five percent.
While some, like Gloria Steinem in the Times, expressed apprehension commenting on the wife of a political candidate, many other women view Abedin as an active participant in Weiner’s continued manipulation of New York voters. By vouching for his rehabilitation time and again, Abedin, a political heavyweight in her own right, risks the destruction of her reputation alongside her husband. That reputation isn’t just built on Abedin’s political role as Hillary Clinton’s advisor, but also as a wife and mother. It is that latter image that’s taking a beating today. Lisa Bloom, an opinion columnist for CNN, explained why Abedin’s behavior was so reprehensible from one woman to another:
Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, was reduced to the standing-by-her-man-at-the-news-conference archetype, a dated wife-as-doormat visual it’s time to eliminate from our political theater.
Sure, she can keep him around if she wants to. But we don’t have to bless their craven political move to stand together before the cameras to protect his career, nor do we have to play along as they both pretend that this is something other than more public degradation of her. That they are both consenting adults who participate in this behavior does not make it acceptable to the rest of us. (Simple test: Would you want your daughter in that tableau?)
By continuing to stand by her husband, and asking voters to do the same, Abedin has lost any goodwill and sympathy she might once have garnered as the jilted pregnant wife. The saying goes “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” New Yorkers don’t appreciate being made fools of. While they may not care about the extramarital affairs Weiner conducts while his wife seemingly looks the other way, they don’t appreciate being lied to or manipulated. For their own sake and for the City of New York, it’s time for the Weiners to drop the redemption act and move on from the mayoral race.