Article by Zara McDonald /
September 27, 2017 /
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If you look closely at photos of Hillary Clinton in public – squinting your eyes and zooming in on your screen – Huma Abedin will often be hovering over her shoulder, her eyes fixed, her phone often to her ear, her concentration palpable.
Her hair is invariably styled with a short, bouncy blow-wave, earrings dangle from her lobes and a bright stick of lipstick pops from her mouth. Her style is classic, her preference designer.
She’s clever. Perhaps you could glean that from her presence around Clinton.
Her career, from the very beginning, was one dubbed to be great.
She has been Clinton’s right-hand woman for 20 years, starting out as a White House intern, being transferred to the then-First Lady’s office in 1996 and refusing to leave her side ever since.
According to US politician John McCain, Abedin is a “person of enormous intellect”; no small compliment from a man who was nearly the President.
For John Podesta, Chairman of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Abedin is the ideal colleague.
“She’s as multi-faceted as she is wicked smart, and when you combine that with her humility and strategic sense, you couldn’t ask for a better colleague.”
And then, well, there’s Hillary Clinton, who dubs her must-trusted advisor “timeless”.
“Her combination of poise, kindness, and intelligence are matchless, and I am lucky to have had her on my team for a decade now,” she told Vogue back in 2007.
And then it all fell apart.
It was October 28, 2016 and just 11 days before the election. Clinton and Abedin were on a flight to a rally in Iowa when news broke that then-FBI Director James Comey would re-open his investigation into Clinton’s emails.
“When we heard this Huma looked stricken,” Clinton writes in her new book, What Happened.
“Anthony had already caused so much heartache. And now this. ‘This man is going to be the death of me,’ [Huma] said, bursting into tears.”
The ‘Anthony’ Clinton writes about is Anthony Weiner, former US Democrat and unsuccessful canidate in the 2005 and 2013 New York City mayoral elections. The same Weiner who married Huma Abedin in 2010, and found himself embroiled in three difference sexting scandals from 2011 to 2016.
Abedin stood by him for the first two. By the third, she was out, announcing the couple’s separation in 2016. As the FBI combed through his belongings in an investigation into an allegation he sent explicit messages to a 15-year-old girl, they stumbled on emails of a political variety. Ones between Clinton and Abedin, sent from her private server.
And as such, less than a fortnight before the election, the Clinton email scandal reared its head once more.
As Weiner makes news again, this time because he was jailed for 21 months for illicit online contact with a 15-year-old girl, all eyes and all headlines look to Abedin. The “humiliated” wife. A “victim”. A woman who did nothing more than associate herself with the wrong people.
He may have humiliated her. He may have let her be the victim of his addiction to sex. But according to Weiner himself, he may have cost her her career, as well.
“My regret for my crime is profound,” he wrote in a letter to his sentencing judge, in a plea to be spared prison time.
“My continued acting out over the years crushed aspirations of my wife and ruined our marriage. I am so deeply sorry for the harm I have done to her, and I live with the sorrow I will never be able to fix that.”
Abedin’s biggest – if, only – crime, was picking the wrong man to marry. But as we know, time and time again, it’s a crime of our subconscious’ highest-degree, because we’re not very good at forgiving the long-suffering wife. We crucify her because we don’t trust her.
According to Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne’s School of Social and Political Sciences, it’s an idea called sexually transmitted ethics, centring on how we often perceive women as extensions of their husbands’ values and beliefs.
“We hate them because of virtue of who they’re connected to, even when we don’t really know anything about those people,” she told Mamamia in an interview earlier this month.
Huma Abedin’s career has been tainted not by her own volition and not by her own mistakes. Arguably, Abedin’s career has been tainted because of own inability to see past her involvement with a man who has made questionable, and now illegal, decisions.
It’s ironic then, you might say, that in all of this, the woman whom Abedin worked for as her reputation began to lose its shine was a woman who knows too well about the indiscretions of a husband.
Hillary Clinton, a woman who struggled some 20 years later, to escape the hold her husband’s affair held over her.
The one that kept calling her a liar who couldn’t be trusted.