In the wake of former New York congressman Anthony Weiner’s third major sexting controversy, his wife and aide to Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, announced she would be leaving him.
Naturally, comparisons between the scandals of Weiner and those of Clinton’s husband Bill emerged. The question of why Abedin left Weiner but Hillary didn’t leave Bill was discussed widely.
Abedin had many reasons to leave Weiner prior to Monday, sure, but this latest scandal was probably the actual best time to part ways. Doing so now leaves less than three months of questions as to why Hillary stayed but Abedin left. Leaving any earlier and it could have dogged the campaign the entire election cycle.
This latest sexting scandal is also different from the prior two in that Weiner’s young son was involved. Weiner was no longer one half of a power couple—he resigned from Congress in disgrace after his first sexting scandal, and then resigned from the New York mayoral race in disgrace after his second. He was now a stay-at-home dad. Whatever his transgressions against Abedin were, there was no indication that he was anything but a loving father.
That was called into question when he sexted a photo of his crotch while his toddler-aged son slept on the bed next to him. He also joked about his son being there in his text messages to the woman with whom he shared the photo.
Abedin didn’t need Weiner for a long time—she’s the successful one in the couple and the family’s breadwinner. Now she doesn’t need him as a full-time father either—he’s proven to be, at the very least, not trustworthy in that role, either.
But the comparisons to Bill and Hillary are unfair. Every marriage is different, and people stay for different reasons. However, I don’t think it’s possible to argue that what Weiner did is nearly as awful as Bill’s offenses.
Bill had physical extramarital affairs and was accused of rape multiple times. The Democratic Party may still love him and hiss whenever anyone brings up his past transgressions, but he still remains a prominent member of the Left while Weiner is not.
As Anthony L. Fisher noted at Reason, the Left ignored the workplace sexual harassment Bill engaged in with Monica Lewinsky (even though it’s usually quick to denounce such harassment of a male superior to a female underling).
“The ethical problems posed by a workplace sexual relationship are striking, but what’s worse than the president of the United States seducing a wide-eyed volunteer was Bill Clinton’s use of presidential power in an attempt to destroy her reputation after her existence became problematic for his presidency,” Fisher wrote.
Beyond Lewinsky, Bill was accused by several women of rape, including Juanita Broaddrick, whose accusation has received increased notoriety in 2016.
I guess this makes it seem more odd that Hillary stayed while Abedin left, but again I’ll remind readers that Bill was the governor of Arkansas and then president of the United States when these accusations happened. Those are tougher titles to ignore than even someone who had been in Congress for 12 years, but wasn’t really known outside of New York until the scandals.
It’s more politically advantageous for Hillary to stay with Bill than it was for Abedin to stay with Weiner. The latter also hadn’t known each other or been together as long as the former, so the bonds may not have been as deep.
No matter the reasons, Hillary won’t be able to avoid the comparisons between now and the election, even though the situations aren’t really the same. It’s easy to say “if it were me, I would have left after the first scandal,” but you can never know for sure how you’ll react until you’re actually in the relationship.
I’ve never been cheated on (that I know of) so I can’t say for sure I would immediately leave and not want to truly believe the cheater wasn’t sorry and wouldn’t have learned his lesson. I’ve been hurt in other ways in relationships that in hindsight, maybe I should have just left instead of trying to forgive. But when you’re actually a part of the relationship, when you care deeply for someone, sometimes you hope the other person just made a mistake and won’t do it again.