Being Mrs. Carlos Danger

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

As America basks in the comedic glow cast by Anthony Weiner's dirty little keyboard, made so hilarious by Weiner's use of the online pseudonym "Carlos Danger," many are asking, what about Huma? That Weiner is a dirtball is pretty clear to all at this point, and given that a year after he had left Congress over the first incarnation of the sexting scandal he was still playing these games suggests something compulsive about the behavior. An ordinary person, particularly one who wanted to stage an eventual political comeback, would say, "OK, I had my fun, but now I've been caught and humiliated—no more of that." But who the hell knows what was going on in his head? Maybe the possibility of getting caught was the whole thrill.

If you want to read the texts, they're here. My absolute favorite is when, in the midst of all the Penthouse Forum dirty talk, Weiner sends this plaintive text to his digital paramour: "I'm deeply flawed." You can say that again, Carlos.

Huma Abedin is just the latest in a long line of women who had to stand before the press while their husbands discussed their betrayal. Each one handled it differently—Elizabeth Edwards was supportive in front of the cameras but raged at John privately, Jenny Sanford dumped Mark like a rock—but as Garance Franke-Ruta notes, if we assume Weiner and Abedin are telling the truth that she's known about Sexting II: Sext Harder for a while, then they had prepared for this moment for some time.

I didn't find much wrong in the statement she gave; it was blunt about how difficult it was for her to stay married to Weiner, said in the end their marriage is private, and expressed her belief in his political career. In other words, it was exactly what you'd expect. What was she going to do, slap him across the face in front of the cameras? I've seen many people react negatively toward Abedin's statement (here's an exception), which I think isn't so much about what she said at the press conference but more a reaction to the fact that she hasn't packed her bags. We can all say, "How can she stay with him?", particularly when the two of them were posing for People magazine talking about all the progress they'd made at the same time he was starting up a new online relationship. The trouble is that it's hard to find a good reason Abedin would stick with this. Is being the mayor's wife really that great?

And that may be the most despicable thing about what Weiner did. Not just that he betrayed Huma in this way but that he asked her to accompany him on his mission to become mayor of New York, all the while taking this enormous risk that would not only put that bid in jeopardy but also mean that at some point, she'd have to come before the cameras and do what she did. Forcing his wife into that public humiliation, even knowing it would inevitably subject her to a storm of contempt, was, for him, worth the price of Carlos Danger having his fun (or feeding his addiction, or however you want to think about it).

It can't be said too often that none of us knows what goes on between them or what is in her head. But I picture Huma going down to the basement every night, where there's a punching bag on a chain; she puts on the gloves and goes to town, eyes narrowed, teeth clenched, sweat pouring down her face. The sound of her punches echoes up the stairs to where Anthony sits reading campaign memos, each thwack a reproach that he knows he should feel worse about than he does. After a while she climbs the stairs, panting, and stops in the doorway to stare at the back of his head. Knowing her eyes are on him, he turns and puts on a smile. "Good workout?" he asks. She pauses an extra second before answering, just to let him know she knows how full of it he is. "Yes." Then she turns and heads for the shower, while he lets out a big sigh and returns to his computer.

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