Notice anything missing at Anthony Weiner’s news conference on Monday afternoon?
His wife, Huma Abedin.
(Update, 6/8: Weiner’s wife is pregnant)
What this means for their marriage is unclear, despite the congressman’s assertions that the newlyweds (married just 11 months) will survive the scandal. “I love my wife very much, and we have no intention of splitting up over this,” he told reporters. “We have been through a great deal together, and we will weather this. I love her very much, and she loves me.”
But her absence at his side may signal the end of the humiliating stand-by-your-man appearance by political wives.
The agonizing spectacle was once a given: The erring husband appeared before the media, supportive spouse at his side as cameras rolled and reporters shouted questions. Could Wendy Vitter have looked more miserable when David admitted he was caught up in the D.C. madam scandal? No, and yet she told reporters, “Last week, some people very sympathetically said to me, ‘I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now.’ I stand before you to tell you very proudly I am proud to be Wendy Vitter.” Watching Silda Spitzer’s downcast eyes as Eliot confessed to sex with call girls was uncomfortable at best. Dina McGreevey, in a demure, powder blue suit, stood close as Jim announced to the world he was gay.
Even Hillary Rodham Clinton did it, appearing on “60 Minutes” saving his 1992 presidential campaign when she reassured voters about Gennifer Flowers and other rumors of Bill’s womanizing. “I’m not sitting here as some little woman ‘standing by my man’ like Tammy Wynette,” she said. “I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him, and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together.”
Chris Lee’s wife was spared the exercise — he resigned so quickly that there was no time for a news conference. Maria Shriver defended Arnold Schwarzenegger amid groping allegations during his 2003 campaign; he was out of office by the time of his latest scandal.
But Jenny Sanford refused the ritual , leaving Mark to face questions about his affair with his “soul mate” alone. Ditto for Elizabeth Edwards, who was nowhere to be seen in John’s confessional sit-down with ABC.
Think Abedin will say anything about her husband’s news conference? The notoriously private aide to Secretary of State Clinton never talked during the good times; highly unlikely we’ll hear anything from her now.
Read earlier: Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin wed, 7/12/10