Maybe 'Mayor Weiner' Was Never the Goal

Elspeth Reeve
Maybe 'Mayor Weiner' Was Never the Goal

Antony Weiner has dumb stuff in his life, but how could Anthony Weiner have possibly thought he could win the race to be mayor of New York City? We're starting to think that was never the point of jumping into the media limelight.

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The stress of running the campaign of a serial sexter is clearly getting to his staff, and his wife, Huma Abedin, is taking a vacation from working for Hillary Clinton — not a leave of absence, the campaign insists! — to help her husband. Since he declared his candidacy in May, the world has been introduced to another of Weiner's sexting partners, and a former intern has revealed he thought it was funny to call female interns "Monica." (Like Monica Lewinsky. Get it? Get it?) But maybe the whole point is to get all this stuff out and chewed over incessantly. That way it'll be old news if Abedin decides to run for office some day — or, more immediately, if she goes to work for Clinton's 2016 campaign which would have to get going by early 2015, less than two years away.

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But look at what's happened since Clinton exited the Obama administration (with the President's near-endorsement as his successor). Abedin was the subject of glowing press coverage, even as reporters were skeptical of Weiner's rehabilitation. "I say Huma for mayor — she has all the qualities he doesn't," Daily Beast editor Tina Brown tweeted last week. "Huma should have run for mayor; she'd win in a landslide," Nate Silver said"Huma Abedin for mayor," syndicated columnist Susan Estrich wrote. "The only way out for Abedin, as I see it, is to give up being the 'Good Wife,' dump Weiner and run for office on her own," Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn argued on Tuesday.

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Maybe that isn't a "way out," but the original plan. If Abedin, and not Weiner, were the first one to hit the campaign trail after his resignation, she would have been the one who was tarnished by his sexts. Or, imagine Clinton trying to focus on eating fried things at the Iowa state fair in 2015, while reporters ask her about new photos on of her aide's infamous husband. Or, imagine, a few more years down the road, a Abedin for Whatever press conference with reporters asking about Weiner's sexts.

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Better to get all the gross sexting stories out on a trial run, so that when it's Abedin's turn, the sexting is too chewed over to be interesting. The Clinton donors will have gotten over their sext panic. As Weiner said in Staten Island this week, "There is going to reach a point fairly soon when I’m going to say, I’ve talked enough about it." In future press conferences, Abedin can roll her eyes and say it's ancient history.

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Abedin has gotten her first round of negative press coverage in recent days, with Clinton supporters fretted she was hurting Hillary's brand, and others wondering why she stayed with Weiner. But Abedin is still acting like a very able politician. A family member and a close friend spoke to People about "Why Huma Stayed" on Wednesday, and it's hard to imagine they did so without Abedin's tacit approval. Why did she stay? For a noble cause, of course. "The couple had even confided to family members that they might split," People reports. "But when it came to actually packing her bags and carrying their son Jordan away, Abedin couldn't do it."

"Huma has a very strong moral character, and she made a commitment for better or worse," explains her longtime friend, New York businesswoman Rory Tahari. "She never wanted Jordan to say to her, 'Why didn't you do everything you could to help Dad?'" 

It was all for her son. How could voters quibble with that?