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It’s time to be done with second-guessing personal decisions of those who have been wronged. That, of course, is almost impossible to do in today’s instant social media world where everyone feels they have a right to weigh in on anything and everything.
If you watched the recent documentary “Weiner,” you probably were not surprised when the news broke this week about yet another sexting episode involving the former U.S. Congressman and former New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner.
What might have been more surprising was the announcement today that his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin, was, finally, separating from her marriage. Especially since she had very publicly stated, after his first round of online escapades, that she and Weiner, who hadn’t yet celebrated their first wedding anniversary, were going to stay married and work on their relationship.
As a political wonk, I was drawn to watch the movie “Weiner” because I figured there was no way he’d let anyone follow him around 24/7 with a camera crew unless we’d get a different glimpse of the man whose Twitpik and unfortunate last name created the joke heard ‘round the world in 2011. I assumed the movie was a redemption project, and maybe it started that way.
Abedin must have thought so too, because much of the film followed both of them as Weiner tried to make a political comeback and become New York City’s mayor. But, even with documentarians on hand, Weiner apparently couldn’t help himself, sexting yet again, bringing down a promising campaign and further embarrassing the loyal woman who stayed married to him after he was forced to resign from Congress.
The scenes toward the end of the movie featuring Abedin were incredibly painful to watch, as she put on a supportive wife game face even as she was clearly suffering from the humiliation her husband had brought on her … again.
The immediate attention that Abedin’s separation announcement is getting feels familiar, though, because it’s the second verse of the Hillary/Monica/Bill story. That somehow, the victim is to blame for the perpetrator’s conduct. And that victim is suspect as both as a woman and a politician, because she stayed with her husband when so many of us claim we would never do that in our own marriages.
Over the years, many people have scratched their heads about why Hillary Clinton stayed in her marriage to Bill after the Monica Lewinsky scandal and that she did, ultimately, “stand by her man”, notwithstanding what Hillary said in that 1992 60 Minutes interview.
Many observers wondered the same thing about Abedin after the world learned about her husband’s alter ego, “Carlos Danger”, and after more sexting during his mayoral campaign. Both women have been judged harshly — there are still those who say they won’t vote for Hillary for president because it is “clear” to them that she only stayed in her marriage to further her political career, rather than out of love or marital commitment.
It’s time to be done with this sort of second-guessing the personal decision of those who have been wronged. That, of course, is almost impossible to do in today’s instant social media world where everyone feels they have a right to weigh in on anything and everything.
Even without the help of Donald Trump and his tweets, that have no basis in fact, a story that has the salaciousness of Weiner’s history, and more photos of him in his tighty whiteys, is irresistible to those who have nothing better to do than to hang out on social media and judge others. (It makes me wonder how differently things might have turned out if Twitter and texting had been things, rather than just dry cleaning, during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial).
Today, with the help of shoot-from-the-hip tweets, media reports are talking about this story, not in terms of Weiner and the pain he’s caused his wife and family, but rather by focusing on Trump’s imaginings that somehow Hillary compromised national security because of alleged pillow talk between Huma and Anthony.
It’s time to be done with “Carlos Danger” and time to be done with trying to hold political wives responsible for the sins of their husbands. There’s no doubt that Huma Abedin’s decision to separate from her husband is a painful one and the shame and ridicule he’s brought to himself and his family won’t soon be forgotten by them.
But let’s not have a second chapter of “Why did she stand by her man?” as we did with her boss, Hillary. We all want our marriages and relationship problems to be private. Just because someone is in the spotlight professionally doesn’t mean that difficult personal decisions are any of our business or worthy of media obsession.