In the end, it probably wasn’t Huma Abedin’s injured wifely feelings that ended her marriage so much as her professional pride.
This is the third time that Anthony’s Weiner’s sexting has landed him on the front pages of New York tabloids. Again, he was embarrassingly shorn of his shirt, wearing just his skivvies and apparently happy below the waist.
The first time Anthony went public with a photo like this, it was intended for a 21-year-old admirer, but he accidentally tweeted it to his roughly 45,000 Twitter followers. It was May 2011, and he was congressman, a loner and a whip-smart combative son of middle-class Brooklyn with the ambition to run New York City as its mayor. Huma, his pregnant wife of one year, apparently hadn’t known about his obsession for e-sex with strangers.
But she knew when she propped him up for his mayoral run in 2013 – helping solicit funds from her friends among the Bill and Hillary Clinton campaign donors. And so it mustn’t be the infidelity – if you can call it that – of phone sex that finally caused Huma to walk. It must be the public embarrassment. A scandal isn’t a scandal if it’s private between two people. It’s a scandal when it appears on the cover of the New York Post.
For Huma, the Aug. 29 NY Post cover was a potentially career-ending juncture. It called into question her judgment at a time when her long-time mentor Hillary Clinton is a breath away from becoming the nation’s first female president. Why would a woman as talented and striking as Abedin stay with a guy who regularly humiliated her? Love is one reason, but it doesn’t overcome every odd. Not odds this repeated and this public.
Heartbreakingly, the photo also compromised Huma as a mother. The couple’s son Jordan, now 4, appears as a baby next to his dad in the offending pic. His face was blurred out in the published photo – but, my God. One of the reasons the couple stayed together all these years – five years since his first fateful tweet in May 2011 – was an aspiration to give Jordan a good family life.
Huma said, at a July 2013 press conference, “I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage and that was a decision I made for me, for our son and for our family. I didn’t know how it would work out, but I did know that I wanted to give it a try.”
Anthony’s view in October 2014, as told to Politico, may have been the more pessimistic if realistic outlook for young Jordan: “I am quite confident that my son will have the ability to look at the totality of the experiences he has with his father and the record that I've got and judge me appropriately. Maybe, you know, it teaches him a little something about adversity and everything doesn't go great all the time.”
Especially not if you keep working at making it un-great, no.
Anthony could not keep his fetishes inside the walls of his home. Perhaps if he could have, his and Huma’s personal bargains could have had a chance. All relationships make accommodations – maybe those of political spouses more than the rest. But because of who Huma is – given her near-familial relationship with Hillary Clinton – the interpersonal is always going to be front-page, tabloid fodder.
Huma had to choose: Hillary or Anthony. Anthony’s behavior tilted the scale. As a mother and a political force, Huma knew the stakes on both sides were rising. I think she chose well.
If you liked this blog post, please sign up for updates on the book launch of "Why They Stay: Sex Scandals, Deals, and Hidden Agendas of Nine Political Wives" at whytheystaybook.com, publishing in March 2017. Anne Michaud is a veteran political journalist and columnist for Newsday in New York.