Is it really fair to judge Huma Abedin for sticking by Anthony Weiner?

The NY Times, NY Post, and the Washington Post all have pieces up today examining the role NYC Mayor wannabe Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin – the high profile right hand woman to Hillary Clinton -has played to date in his campaign, sticking by his side in the face of the humiliating, embarrassing revelations about her husband’s repeated cyber-adulterous behavior. For purposes of discussion, I’ll go with the NYT’s article:

Since Mr. Weiner began his unlikely comeback bid for mayor of New York City, Ms. Abedin has served as his crucial character witness, a glamorous and widely admired figure who reassured New Yorkers, in glossy interviews and at campaign stops, that her husband deserved their trust.

But as the city absorbed the disclosures this week that Mr. Weiner had continued exchanging sexual messages online — even after he resigned from Congress, checked into therapy and pledged to re-devote himself to his wife and child — the high regard for Ms. Abedin turned to bafflement.

“It’s hard to watch her still encourage people to vote for him,” said Arita Balaram, 22, of the Bronx, as she sipped a caramel latte by Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. “It’s hard to watch this as a woman.”

The public view of Ms. Abedin is no small thing to Mr. Weiner, who is running a lonely and unorthodox campaign for City Hall, relying on his wife for affectionate photo shoots and strategic advice and as an important emissary to women who vote, who have been the most skeptical of his return to politics.

She has been more than the typical supportive spouse, tapping friends she made as a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton to bankroll her husband’s candidacy, helping hire crucial members of the campaign staff and vouching for his rehabilitation in a People magazine interview last year when she said, “I want people to know we’re a normal family.”


Interviews with dozens of New Yorkers, from Midtown Manhattan to Corona, Queens, on Wednesday revealed a reservoir of sympathy for Ms. Abedin, with some noting that marriages are always complicated. “I’m recently married,” Emily Sarokhan, 28, of Manhattan, said at a coffee shop by her office on Queens Plaza South. “When these things happen, I try to put myself in their shoes and understand.”

But some said they were perplexed by her decision — not so much to stay with her husband, but to promote his mayoral ambitions — given his obvious personal problems.

I think wondering whether or not it is wise for Ms. Abedin to continue to urge NYCers to vote for him in the face of his ongoing online sex scandals is perfectly legitimate. After all, as a public figure, Weiner has demonstrated a serial lack of regard and respect for the trust of the constituency that he wants to give him a “second chance.” It would even be understandable, in my view, for his wife to take a step back from appearing at his side and promoting him at public functions, because at this stage, her continuing to be his number one defender hurts her credibility – as a public figure so close to the woman who may run for President again in 2016 again – more than his.

On the other hand, the wonderment over why she continues to stay with him at all considering all he’s done is out there, even though the NYT article plays it down. Many are quick to judge, but I won’t, even though I have to say that if this were me in this situation, I don’t know if I’d make the same decisions she has. I can only speculate, but I suspect it’s a situation where she takes her “for better or for worse” vows very seriously. Also, they have a child that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 years old – or close to it. When the first scandal involving Weiner and the “sexting” broke, it was revealed not long after that that she was pregnant – and they had not long been married. Getting a divorce so soon after getting married, and being pregnant, was probably not an option she even considered. And for all we know, she knew about the 2012 stuff before it was reported earlier this week. Remember, Anthony Weiner said when he first announced he was running for Mayor to not be surprised if more pictures and sexts came out in the media before all was said and done. Had he already confessed to her prior to the newest revelations?

Ms. Abedin may be an extraordinarily forgiving woman, I don’t know. I don’t think she’s doing this for “power”, as some suggest. Remember, continuing to publicly vouch for all the wonderful things Weiner could do if elected Mayor only hurts her credibility, not his. Not only that, but having to go through personal issues of this magnitude in the public eye has to be incredibly stressful emotionally. In any event, if anecdotal evidence is proof I know many women who have stayed with their husbands over “real-life” infidelities involving actual sexual contact with “the other woman” – and in the long run their marriages ended up being stronger. That doesn’t always work with some people, of course, but perhaps in this case Ms. Abedin is of the mindset that because no actual sex was involved (as far as we know) then her husband can be redeemed both in the public spotlight and privately with his family.

It’s hard to know. All I know is that if New Yorkers have any common sense of decency whatsoever they’ll reject Weiner in the September primary. Yes, his and his wife’s collective personal life is theirs alone, but his personal failings also happen to intersect with his desire to win back the trust of the public – and over and over again Mr. Weiner has shown he’ll abuse that trust every chance he gets. He shouldn’t be rewarded by being given the opportunity to embarrass himself, his wife, and his fellow New Yorkers again.

Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin
Standing by her man. (Photo via NYDN)

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