You know Hillary and Bill Clinton wish that Anthony Weiner and his wife would just disappear. Vanish into thin air, never to be heard from again. They’ve got to be sick and tired of hearing people say that Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is “just like Hillary.”
You would have thought that after a sexting scandal that forced him to resign from Congress two years ago, Weiner would have learned his lesson. But, no, the contender to be the next mayor of New York has sent sexually explicit text messages to several other young women over the past couple of years. And still, his long-suffering wife says she has forgiven his wayward ways and will stick by him.
It’s just like Hillary Clinton did for husband Bill 15 years ago, when news got out of his sexual hanky-panky with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Remember how Hillary Clinton tried to blame reports of her husband’s indiscretions on a “vast right-wing conspiracy?” That didn’t work very well, did it?
Apparently, the comparison of the two scandals is driving the Clintons bonkers. The New York Post reports that a top Democrat told the paper: “The Clintons are pissed off that Weiner’s campaign is saying that Huma is just like Hillary. How dare they compare Huma with Hillary? Hillary was the first lady. Hillary was a senator. She was secretary of state.”
And for much of that time, Abedin was there beside her, both as a friend and as an employee. Columnist Christine M. Flowers pointed out: “Huma Abedin has been by her mentor’s side for almost two decades, and it is reasonable to think that she spent a large part of that time taking notes about how to thrive and prosper in the political jungle…. Anthony’s wife has taken a page from her pseudo-mama’s dog-eared book and has perfected the art of damage control.”
Flowers wrote: “[W]e are now in the presence of Hillary Clinton, version 2.1.”
Maureen Dowd, the preachy liberal columnist for The New York Times, reminded her readers that Bill Clinton officiated at Abedin’s and Weiner’s wedding in 2010. And she managed to find one positive result from the latest Weiner escapades: “Aside from being a gift to clowns, hacks, punsters, rivals and the writers of ‘The Good Wife,’ Carlos Danger [one of Weiner’s texting non de plumes] is also a gift to political-scandal survivors. His behavior is so outlandish and contemptible — the sort of thing that used to require a trench coat and a park — that it allows Eliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton to act huffy.”
“Huffy” isn’t quite the right word to describe how Bill and Hillary Clinton feel about the constant comparisons — and reminders. A much better description would be “furious.” And no wonder. Of course they’d be angry about anything that reminds voters of the Lewinsky scandal. After all, it was Bill Clinton’s less-than-honest testimony back then (remember his claim that “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”?) that led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Yes, if the media keep reminding people of what happened back then, it just might cut into the millions of dollars in speaking fees that Bill Clinton is earning today. Even worse, it could affect Hillary Clinton’s chances to be elected President herself in 2016. So no wonder they both wish that the comparisons would stop. And that Weiner would cancel his campaign for mayor and just quietly fade away.
The New York Times says it has seen and heard enough. An editorial on the subject concluded, “The serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.”
But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. In fact, Weiner himself has repeatedly vowed that he won’t drop out of the race, no matter how many editors and politicians urge him to do so. “Quit isn’t the way we roll in New York City,” he declared.
He also said he didn’t much care what Hillary or Bill Clinton thought. “I am not terribly interested in what people who are not voters in the city of New York have to say,” Weiner told reporters.
Apparently, he doesn’t much care what likely Democratic voters in New York City think either. According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, a majority of them also say that Weiner should withdraw from the race.
Nor is Weiner’s sexting scandal all the negative publicity his campaign is receiving. Now it’s his communications director, Barbara Morgan, who’s making headlines. Seems she went on an expletive-filled rant against a campaign intern. And she did it while a reporter was recording every word.
I can’t repeat most of what Morgan said, because it was too X-rated for this publication. One of the few allowable epithets she used was “slutbag.” Will Morgan’s dirty language take the spotlight off her boss’s dirty text messages? Not for long.
In the meantime, there’s another election in New York City that will also test voter forgiveness. Former Governor Spitzer is running for city comptroller. Spitzer resigned as Governor in 2008, after only a year in office, when revelations emerged that he was Client No. 9 of a high-priced prostitution service.
And through it all, Spitzer’s wife, Sida, also stood by her man. That scandal was said to be the inspiration for the popular TV show “The Good Wife.”
So far, the media response to all of this has been to treat Weiner like a laughing-stock, his wife Abedin as an unfortunate victim and Hillary Clinton like an innocent bystander.
Hillary Clinton gets to enjoy lunch with the President outside the Oval Office, far above all the mud that’s being flung below her. She’ll pretend she doesn’t hear any of the comparisons with her former friend until New York’s mayoral election is over and Weiner’s sexting problem is finally forgotten.
At least, that’s what she hopes. Based on what’s happened since her husband’s sex scandal 15 years ago, Hillary Clinton has every reason to be optimistic.
Isn’t it wonderful what can happen (and what won’t happen) when you have the mass media running interference for you?
Until next time, keep some powder dry.
– Chip Wood