Abedin’s motivations under scrutiny as she stands by her sexting husband

For years, she’s been a sad feature of American politics — the sombre political wife, standing by her man amid revelations of sexual impropriety.

WASHINGTON — For years, she’s been a sad feature of American politics — the sombre political wife, standing by her man amid revelations of sexual impropriety.

Hillary Clinton, Silda Spitzer, Elizabeth Edwards, Wendy Vitter, to name just a few — they’ve all appeared beside disgraced politicians, in stricken silence or in resolute defence, as the flawed men they chose for husbands have made public confessions of extra-marital misdeeds and asked for forgiveness from Americans.

But 36-year-old Huma Abedin is a younger woman, from a different generation and a different culture than those who grew up remembering Jackie Kennedy’s stiff upper lip after stories of her late husband’s rampant philandering emerged in the years following his assassination.

The wife of Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who confessed Tuesday to yet another raunchy sexting scandal involving a 22-year-old woman, is a bright, educated feminist with an impressive career of her own as a longtime adviser to Clinton, no stranger herself to a badly behaving husband.

And Abedin’s awkward public defence of her husband has not just puzzled female members of America’s chattering classes — it’s angered and dismayed them.

“Abedin’s acceptance is hers to bestow, but she cannot force it on us,” Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post wrote in an opinion piece on Wednesday. “Not when Weiner acknowledges that his sexting is ’in our rearview mirror, but it’s not far.’ How many car crashes are enough before you yank the driver’s licence?”

Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist, author and senior fellow at the Council on Contemporary Families, was equally appalled.

“What the hell was she doing at Weiner’s press conference Tuesday, where he once again asked her and the public for forgiveness for a new set of sexual transgressions, instead of being at her attorney’s office?” Schwartz wrote on CNN.com.

It’s a question many women are asking.

“I would have thought maybe she might have wanted to get out after the initial scandal, but to have him say that he was still doing that stuff, long after the first problem, and now she’s even more supportive — it’s just hard to understand,” Myra Gutin, a communications professor at New Jersey’s Rider University who studies first ladies and political wives, said in an interview.

“She must see something in him that other people don’t. She’s obviously very invested in the marriage, and perhaps there’s more to it than we’re understanding.”

Theories are running the gamut, with some suggesting the Weiners must have a loveless marriage that emotionally enables the ambitious Abedin to sacrifice her dignity for the fame, power and connections that would result from being the wife of the New York City mayor.

Others opine that she is simply hopelessly devoted to a troubled bad boy, an affliction familiar to many women.

Still others assume she’s following too much in the footsteps, or even taking advice from, of one of America’s most famous wronged women — Clinton, her longtime friend and mentor who’s expected to run for president in 2016.

Publications ranging from Time magazine to Vanity Fair have offered up their own explanations on what could possibly be motivating Abedin.

“Abedin knew the decision she was making to speak on her husband’s behalf, and it was a choice that most likely takes into account her own political future, potentially as chief of staff to the nation’s first woman president, as well as her personal future, as mother to a 20-month-old, Jordan,” Time wrote.

The speculation about her motivations must be excruciating for the famously private Abedin.

The Muslim Abedin, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, has long been hesitant to step into the spotlight, so the timing couldn’t be worse for one of her rare forays onto the public stage — a piece she penned for the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, which goes on sale Aug. 20.

The magazine provided a “first look” on Wednesday after Weiner’s newest sex scandal was revealed.

The article’s title? “The Good Wife.”

“People have said many things about my husband — some nice, some not so nice,” Abedin wrote. “And that will surely continue. Launching this campaign was not an easy decision for our family to make. Putting yourself out there comes with a cost.”

Just Posted

FILE - Albertans enter a COVID-19 mass immunization clinic in downtown Calgary, on May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Red Deer down to 115 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 165 new cases Sunday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a closing news conference at Tregenna Castle following the G7 Summit in St. Ives, Cornwall, England, on Sunday, June 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges support for Ukraine, mum on support for next step in NATO membership

Canada will continue to help address security threats in region

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women’s international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England on April 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rui Vieira
Canada coach Bev Priestman hopes to see improved performance against Brazil

Priestman will likely field a more senior lineup to start Monday

Jimmy Smits arrives at a special screening of “In the Heights” during the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Smits figured he could carry a tune ‘In the Heights’

‘In the Heights’ follows dreams and struggles of Latino community in New York

Actress Devery Jacobs poses for photographs on the red carpet during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, September 13, 2018. Jacobs grew up in the Kanien’kehá:ka Mohawk Territory in Quebec but says shooting her new TV series “Reservation Dogs” in the U.S. felt like “a sense of home. ” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto-based Devery Jacobs on starring in Indigenous-led series ‘Reservation Dogs’

Series to make its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Most Read