MAUREEN DOWD: Hard-deleting Carlos Danger
When you puzzle over why the elegant Huma Abedin is propping up the eel-like Anthony Weiner, you must remember one thing: Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet.
Comparatively speaking, the pol from Queens probably seems like a prince. Even though he’s a punk. After he got caught sexting and flashing women online in 2011, he promised to “never, ever” do that to his family again and slouched away from Congress. He cyber-creeped other young women in a pervy bout of tweet du seigneur as his wife traveled the world with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state.
Yet, while married to the classy, gorgeous mother of his infant son and planning a redemptive run for mayor, he told a Facebook friend and phone-sex partner he had never met that he loved her. Then he told her to “hard-delete” all their correspondence — if that is what you call it.
Aside from his zany Zorro-like nom de porn, Carlos Danger, Weiner has been called many things. His digital girlfriend and fellow extreme exhibitionist, Sydney Leathers (whose name sounds like a nom de porn), said that Weiner described himself to her accurately as “an argumentative, perpetually horny middle-aged man.”
But Weiner’s Goya-esque grotesquerie earns him another name: the “Rosemary’s Baby” of the Clintons.
Bill and Hillary Clinton transformed the way we look at sex scandals. They plowed through the ridicule, refused to slink away in shame like Gary Hart, said it was old news, and argued that if Hillary didn’t object, why should voters?
Poppy Bush thought Americans would reject Bill Clinton in 1992 because of his lascivious ways, but he learned that voters are more concerned with how their own lives will be changed than they are with politicians’ duplicitous private lives.
Americans keep moving the marker of acceptable behavior, partly as a reflection of the coarsening of society and partly as a public acknowledgment that many pols with complicated personal lives have been good public servants.
Now, defining deviancy downward, Seor and Seora Danger are using the Clinton playbook.
The difference is, there’s nothing in Weiner’s public life that is redeeming. In 12 years in Congress, he managed to get only one minor bill passed, on behalf of a donor, and he doesn’t work well with people. He knows how to be loud on cable and wave his Zorro sword in our faces.
‘What is wrong with you?’
Some sex scandals, like Mark Sanford’s, fall into the realm of flawed human nature, and some, like Weiner’s, fall into the realm of “Seriously, what is wrong with you?”
Huma gained renown, movie star suitors and a Vogue spread as the stylish Muslim Garbo silently and efficiently parting the waves for Hillary. She had to be resilient to work her way up from intern to consigliere in tough Hillaryworld, and she saw firsthand how the Clintons beat back foes.
They love Huma, but the Clintons, now showcasing philanthropy and public service preparatory to Hillary’s 2016 run, are not happy about getting dragged into the lewd spectacle that is a low-budget movie version of their masterpiece.
The former president is distancing himself, one associate said, noting, “He’s not getting anywhere near that grenade.”
Huma’s friends are “slapping-my-forehead astounded,” as one put it, that Weiner would get in the race knowing the online land mines that would rock Huma’s world again and torpedo the campaign.
Weiner wooed Huma assiduously, showing up at the Westchester airport in the wee hours to pick her up when she came back from trips with Hillary. “They were two hyperdrive young brains that just clicked,” said a friend. “She liked his Borscht Belt humor.”
Her circle understands that “you love who you love,” as one put it, marveling at Weiner’s “madonna-whore” complex played out online. But that doesn’t mean that you ask people to vote for someone who’s dreadfully flawed for a major office, just because you love him.
They are worried that Huma’s decision to vouch for her husband is starting to hurt her, the one person they all assumed would never be ensnared in anything weird or bad. “The hard stink of this one is going to get on everyone involved,” said one friend.
Another agreed: “As soon as she stood up to say those words she changed herself from a sophisticated, mysterious guiding intelligence and beauty next to Hillary Clinton to the wife of a tarnished Anthony Weiner.”
learned the wrong lesson
They fear Huma learned the wrong lesson from Hillary, given that Bill was a roguish genius while Weiner’s a creepy loser.
“Bill Clinton was the greatest political and policy mind of a generation,” said one. “Anthony is behaving similarly without the chops or resume.”
As often as Bill apologized, he didn’t promise he would “never, ever” do it again, as Weiner did.
“What people won’t forgive is lying in the apology,” said the Clinton pal. “It has to be sincere, and it sure as hell has to be accurate.”