Hate to say it, but you can’t trust a woman whose husband has been screwing around.
A year ago, Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin posed for People magazine, and talked about how they’d worked to repair their marriage after his first sexting scandal forced him to resign his congressional seat in 2011.
"Anthony has spent every day since trying to be the best dad and husband he can be," Abedin told People, as the couple launched a carefully orchestrated lead-in to Weiner’s announcement that he would run for mayor of New York.
Right around the time he was photographed for People holding his young son, Jordan, as his loving wife perched next to them, Weiner had begun a new sexting relationship, with a 22-year-old woman. The photo he sent her, published Tuesday by a raunchy gossip website called The Dirty, was even more graphic than the one that drove him from office.
It’s fascinating how Abedin, who must now be described as Weiner’s "long-suffering" wife even though they’ve been married for only three years, is retracing the life of her boss and mentor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, another woman whose assurances about her husband’s character ultimately came back to haunt her.
In a hastily called news conference Tuesday, Abedin stood nervously in front of a microphone and read a note of support for her husband, who stood at her side: "Our marriage, like many others, has had its ups and its downs. It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive him," Abedin said. "Anthony’s made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after, but I do very strongly believe that this is between us and our marriage. We discussed all of this before Anthony decided to run for mayor, so really what I want to say is I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward."
It might be persuasive to New York City voters that Abedin believes enough in her husband to finally take the microphone and address them directly. And how nice for Weiner that the mother of his 20-month-old son has weighed her choices and decided that staying in the marriage is her best course.
I’m glad they’re "moving forward."
But her assurances mean nothing about his future behaviour. History shows that wives who vouch for their badly behaving political husbands do so at their own peril.
Take the Clintons.
In 1992, when the revelation of Bill Clinton’s affair with Gennifer Flowers threatened to sink his first presidential campaign, the Arkansas governor sat with his wife for a 60 Minutes interview. "You know, I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette," Hillary Clinton said. "I’m sitting here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And you know, if that’s not enough for people, then heck, don’t vote for him."
Voters responded to that.
Six years later, her husband was impeached, a direct result of his inability to keep his libido in check. So, good for Hillary. I’m glad she stuck it out with her cad of a husband. But the ammunition he gave his political enemies allowed loony Republicans to paralyze the country for months.
And you can’t overlook the Schwarzeneggers.
In 2003, even before 11 women came forward to accuse Republican gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger of sexually groping them, lots of detractors had accused him of vile behaviour toward women. To sway reluctant female voters, Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, sat down with Oprah Winfrey, where Shriver praised her husband.
Calling her husband "the exact opposite" of a woman hater, she said he was the "most gracious, supportive man I’ve ever met."
Two weeks later, the Los Angeles Times published its explosive stories about his groping. A couple of days later, Shriver gave a spirited defence of her husband during a speech to Republican women in Newport Beach.
"You can listen to all the negativity and you can listen to people who have never met Arnold, who met him for five seconds 30 years ago," she said. "Or you can listen to me."
We all know how that turned out.
Robin Abcarian is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
—The Los Angeles Times