A Break From Political Tradition: Weiner's Wife Does Not Stand By Her Man

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner speaks to the press about sending lewd Twitter messages on June 6, 2011 Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) speaks to the press about sending lewd Twitter messages on June 6, 2011. (Arun Venugopal/WNYC)

A teary-eyed Anthony Weiner stood notably alone when the married Congressman faced the press earlier this week to confess he sent lewd photos to women online. Rather than stand by her husband's side, Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton, stood in contrast to wives of disgraced politicians past and instead reported to work.

It's likely the spectacle and manner in which the information trickled out that made Abedin, 35, shy away from standing at the podium with her head-hanging hubby, according to political consultant Michael Oliva.

"I've noticed more and more that the wives aren't up there on the podium," Oliva said.

Weiner, 46, said during the press conference that he and his wife of 11 months have "no intention of splitting up over this," but said she called his actions "stupid" and was disappointed.

"The fact that his wife was not there — from a crisis management situation — is not good," said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. "You always want the spouse present. We may just be at a point where having a wife with you is played out; average people see through it."

When former Gov. Eliot Spitzer confessed in October 2008 to frequenting prostitutes and violating his "own sense of right and wrong," wife Silda Wall Spitzer stood by his side.

And New Jersey ex-Gov. James McGreevey had his wife, Dina, by his side when he announced at an August 2004 press conference that he was "a gay American."

In an effort to head off any investigative digging, former Gov. David Paterson and his wife Michelle admitted they had both had affairs soon after Paterson was sworn into office in 2008 following Spitzer's resignation.

But in several other cases, the wives of cheating husbands have avoided the televised confession. The most high profile politician, ex-president Bill Clinton, served his mea culpa during prime time on national television. His wife, Hillary, did not appear with him.

When South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford confessed to having an affair with a South American woman in 2009, his wife, Jenny Sanford, was absent.

In 2009, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada confessed to having an affair with a staffer, and gave a press conference, sans his wife, Darlene. In 2007, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig retracted his guilty plea to lewd behavior in a men's bathroom, and said he was sad for the original decision. He stood, without his wife, at a news conference.

"Eliot Spitzer — he admitted it right away, and he resigned. Because it was such a spectacle with Anthony Weiner, it compounded the embarrassment for her [Abedin]," said political consultant Oliva. "If he'd come clean and admitted he didn’t have sexual relations with the woman she probably would’ve been up there with him."

Oliva said he believes that Weiner has cultivated an image as an independent voice in Washington, the lone congressman taking tough stances on Medicare and the single payer public option.

"He thrived on the fact that he was the only one saying certain things—where once he looked like he was standing out, he now looks alone," he said.


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Comments [30]

second innings

This blog is more useful for the politicians. The information is very effective for politicians.

Jan. 18 2012 05:55 AM
nellcrawley from Texas

What kind of a newlywed person he is? Once a sexual pervert will always be.

Jun. 09 2011 10:21 PM
Robert from NYC

Our country is falling apart and Weiner's weiner is getting all this attention? Pathetic.
He made a stupid decision, and his wife is taking care not to get caught up in it. Cheers to her. Let's move on with this. He should definitely not resign. The voters will ultimately decide his future.

Jun. 08 2011 08:40 PM

Betweeen innings of a ball game, clicking on the remote, I stumbled on Bill O'Reilly (eughh, usually) and Charles Krauthammer (right-wing but real, usually). They were agreeing that it was very possible to overplay Wienergate.

Wiener's peccadillos do not compare to those of Barney Frank, Jesse jackson, the now-lionized Clinton or the rapidly-rehabilitated Spitzer. Nor to those of the numerous sex/morality hypocrites from the political right, who --Henry Hyde excepted-- somehow seem unable to recover.

I pity the next Republican who gets caught with his pants down, or even just bulging. The GOP and Fox News will be forced to throw the first stones, and the biggest.

--Paul J. Bosco

Jun. 08 2011 06:32 PM
Rachel from UWS

JJ from Manhattan: is it "wreak"?

Jun. 08 2011 06:03 PM
RXN from Queens

Weiner promised to be faithful to his wife. He also took an oath of loyalty to his office. If he is so gravely disordered that he engages in this type of sleazy behavior, and trashes his marriage vows, and can't be faithful to his wife, how can we entrust the common good to him? Weiner has betrayed his wife's trust and the public trust. He should be man enough to resign. But you shouldn't put "man enough" and Anthony Weiner in the same sentence. He's pure sleaze.

Jun. 08 2011 03:25 PM
Marlene from Long Island, NY

I bet if you polled 1000 people who, all of a sudden ,have a strong opinion as whether or not Anthony Weiner should continue to represent them in Congress, you wouldn't find more than 2 or 3 who could actually name a single piece of legislation he either put forth or failed to help pass! That's the job we've hired him to do. If I found the top surgeon in my area to perform a procedure, then found out that he cheats during his weekly poker game - would I lose faith in his/her ability and drop him/her?! -Hardly. Do I care if my plumber cheats on his wife..assume that means he cheating me? No, I compare work and prices to others in the field...for the job I"m hiring him to do. (or her, Josie) .Our "free press" is supposed to "inform the public" so we can take a responsible part in our governing. How about reporters spend some time/energy looking for evidence of elected officials (public) record of their performance of the job we hire them to do - You know, air the NEWS that we should be discussing, instead of posting salacious gossip to sell air time. I mean, I enjoy it as entertainment (you can't make this stuff up!) , but let's not confuse it with muckraking!

Jun. 08 2011 02:31 PM
JJ from Manhattan

Apologies for slight usage, punctuation and grammar errors in my comment. I know how distracting these can be, and how they can detract from a commenter's credibility. I had edited certain parts and failed to update surrounding text accordingly before hitting "send."

Jun. 08 2011 01:14 PM
JJ from Manhattan

It maddens me that we all (myself included, I add in the spirit of candor) spend so much energy weighing in on matters of sexual infidelity and impropriety, and yes, the LYING that results when such matters are exposed. Lying is wrong; this is a given. It is understandable in certain instances, particularly when it has little bearing on the reason a person is worthy of a news story (in this case, Rep Wiener is a legislator; he fights for what he believes in to the extent that it affects his constituents and the American public.) Sexual infidelity is not an ideal, but nonetheless is morally relative, depending on agreements between the people (couples) in question. However, what's galling is that countless other lies have been told, over and over and over and over again by politicians, and the negative consequences of these particular lies are immeasurable and exponentially greater than anything Wiener's lie has wrought or may wr---(what's the present tense of "wrought," for crap's sake?). What's worse, the weighty lies to which I refer (bear with me) are often not merely ignored by the media, and by us sheep who ingest media reports like so much meadow grass, but, on the contrary, are repeated as part of a "fair and balanced" political dialogue. A case in point is the far-right's branding of Obama's ethics-panel funding clause as funding for "death panels." It was not. It was an proposed relief for those dealing with very real end-of-life issues. I urge all WNYC listeners to seek out Terri Gross's interview with Keith Olberman this past week to get an enlightened earful on this particular matter. And no, I do NOT think I am confusing issues. It is a question of air time, and of the allotment of resources to matters of little consequence vs. those of real consequence.

Jun. 08 2011 01:08 PM
Roger from Brooklyn

Its understandable why she did not stand by him but she should stay with him given that she knew he engaged in such before they married. Lying is part of human nature. We would all lie to save our guts, plus the man is a politition, all natural liers who came from us. Leave the fool alone let him do the job we elected him to do.

Jun. 08 2011 11:39 AM
Rachel from UWS

I hope the days of the wife standing by the disgraced husband are over. I don't care if she supports him and she doesn't deserve the humiliation. In fact, I think less of the husband for making his wife suffer through his scandal publicly.

That said, I hope Weiner doesn't resign, but leaves it up to the voters.

Jun. 08 2011 11:16 AM
RL Carney from Montville, NJ

I raised my children to believe that if they couldn't give their word and mean it, they had nothing else to offer. If you lie to me or to the people you claim to love and hold dearest, you've lost your credibility and the respect of those who choose to live principled lives; and you cannot be trusted - you're a liar.
Too, this is about the choices people make, and the effects or those choices, immediate and long-term.
Infidelity to the marriage covenant is the scourge of society.
If any of us, as individuals toss away principled, responsible behavior, we become the rotten apple in the cart, and that, as we know, eventually effects all of us in a deleterious way.
The man, like so many who are in public office, is a clown.

Jun. 08 2011 11:11 AM

In this time of high unemployment, don't you think that one should work hard at his/her job and not spend time in such stupid antics as Weiner's? Weinerr should be on the job constantly, using spare time communicating with his constituents, and spending his off time with his new wife. Give me his job and I will work so hard I would not have time for such fooling around. Was his tweeting done during work hours?

Jun. 08 2011 11:05 AM

There is no man alive who would admit what Weiner did when confronted by the press. The immediate shock would have caused him to deny it. So lying is expected.

Two other points. First, his wife must have recognized his underwear, so he was already busted in a way. Second, who is surprised by this? Politicians are basically all scumbags and sociopaths. Why would be be surprised by this?

With all that said, I like Weiner. I hope he survives this. The powers that be will do everything than can to bury him because they see their own hypocrisy in his actions.

Jun. 08 2011 11:01 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

This is a NON-story, can we PLEASE get back to some serious issues? What goes on with their marriage is NONE of our business.

How many of you would stand up to scrutiny if we could all judge what goes on in and out your bedrooms? How many of you have sexted or had a sexual internet chat or sent pics of yourself or bought porn, etc,etc

Can we all just stop acting like stupid high school gossips and stop being hypocrites and move the hell on to something relevant?????

Jun. 08 2011 11:00 AM
Nancy from Harlem

Wiener did something stupid and wrong (the lying, most particularly), but he admitted it, apologized and took full responsibility. He has undoubtedly learned a powerful lesson. The most important piece of this, though, is that he's a wonderful voice in Congress and I don't want to lose him. He should not resign.

Jun. 08 2011 10:54 AM
Pam from ny

Politics, including the congress is replete with people who have cheated on their spouses or who have "cheated in (their) heart(s)." Weiner has not cheated on his in realty, only "virtually." What he's done is no crime; it is far milder.

Jun. 08 2011 10:53 AM
Sarah from Hackensack

It is prejudice to assume that women are more opposed to "sexting" than men.

Men will most likely be able to recognize their own private parts in an image whereby I wonder how well women would be able to do so (i.e. recognize their own "private parts").

Jun. 08 2011 10:49 AM
Timothy from Forest Hills

Of course what Mr. Weiner did was seriously dumb--but he's not the first man who thought with his crotch and will surely not be the last. But I am somewhat puzzled by the fact that none of the women with whom he communicated appears to have blocked his (repeated) contacts. Did any of them simply tell him to buzz off?

Jun. 08 2011 10:48 AM
Wu from UWS

young women have power over elder man -- more powerful or not. I think most young women know that.

Jun. 08 2011 10:48 AM

The public aspect of Weiner's behavior that we should all be concerned about is the incredibly bad judgment that his actions displayed and his bald faced lying about it.

Jun. 08 2011 10:38 AM

How is this any of our business? We're such spiteful voyeurs. We're doing far more than our share to embarrass her.

Jun. 08 2011 10:16 AM

Good for her!!!

Jun. 08 2011 09:55 AM
Consuelo Hudgins

Weiner`s wife has an identity of her .own and doesn`t have to play the"good wife".
As for him he shows himself to be a socially immature cad. Despite that I don`t think he should resign. He is one of the few legislators in any branch of government who has the brains and will to try to fix the mess we`re in. I`m more concerned with our failing education system,ancient crumbling infrastructure,and ignorance about global warming than I am about one more man acting like a teenager.
Grow up people!

Jun. 08 2011 09:34 AM

Good, not only should she NOT stand by his side, she should kick his ass too!

Jun. 08 2011 07:40 AM
Jo Ann Vincent from FAir HAven NJ

Why is it such a big deal that the wife (spouse)is not by the side of the misbehaving politician? We all know it's window dressing & humiliating for the spouse. I am long over being surprised by the sexual misdeeds of politicians & rich & powerful men. Is that because I'm 58 yrs old?

Jun. 08 2011 06:41 AM
Jo Ann Vincent from FAir HAven NJ

Why is it such a big deal that the wife (spouse)is not by the side of the misbehaving politician? We all know it's window dressing & humiliating for the spouse. I am long over being surprised by the sexual misdeeds of politicians & rich & powerful men. Is that because I'm 58 yrs old?

Jun. 08 2011 06:37 AM
Nina from Brooklyn

Why on earth should wives be expected to stand by their husbands who make such idiotic decisions? What is going on with our culture that expects women to forgive men who betray them?

Jun. 08 2011 06:23 AM
John Prochilo from New York, NY

You go Huma!

Jun. 08 2011 05:27 AM
Helene from New York

Thank God she did not. She is not as weak as Ms. Spitzer who had to endure humiliation but stood by that bastard.
Ms. Abedin has class and integrity.

Jun. 07 2011 07:59 PM

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