Weiner Scandal Puts Clinton Political Machine to the Test

Hillary Clinton's enemies are hoping the debacle in New York City will cast doubt on the potential 2016 presidential candidate — but her allies say she's handled it perfectly

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Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

Then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, in New York City on Sept. 20, 2011

Anthony Weiner’s floundering mayoral candidacy has tested the limits of political forgiveness, the patience of New Yorkers and the imaginations of tabloid headline writers everywhere. But it may also have served as the first test for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her allies as they weigh another run for the White House.

The Weiner drama has not only ensnared one of Clinton’s closest aides, Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin, but also reminded a scandal-weary public of the Clintons’ checkered past. After all, Clinton, whose 2008 campaign was plagued by infighting, finger pointing and worse, is no stranger to political — and sex — scandals. But the potential 2016 presidential candidate, supporters say, has adeptly managed the crisis from afar, distancing herself from Weiner through intermediaries and remaining quietly loyal to his embattled spouse.

“They’ve handled this perfectly so far — supporting Huma and using surrogates to blast Weiner,” says Adam Goldberg, a former special associate counsel to President Bill Clinton who handled the Monica Lewinsky investigation, and founder of crisis-management firm Trident Advisors.

(PHOTOS: Scandal, Storms and Weiner: The Best Political Photos in May)

Republicans are betting that Weiner’s antics will heighten voters’ sense of “Clinton fatigue” — that by 2016 they won’t want to relive eight years of high drama and investigations. But they have also seized on the Weiner affair as an opportunity not just to create a cloud around Hillary Clinton, but also her husband. Both Clintons remain tremendously popular, with the former President playing a potent role on the 2012 campaign trail, even overshadowing President Obama at last year’s Democratic National Convention.

Weiner only helped the GOP’s efforts when he implicitly compared his situation to Bill Clinton’s White House sex scandal. “Weiner’s comparison to Bill might’ve been fair, but it was bad form and bad politics,” says Goldberg. “Fair because what Bill did was so much worse, bad form because of the Clintons’ support for him, and bad politics because he further alienated every Hillary supporter and hurt his wife’s career.”

Clinton-world repaid Weiner with anonymous sniping from the pages of the New York Times to the New York Post, further accelerating his slide in the polls. The Post cited one New York Democrat as saying, “The Clintons are upset with the comparisons that the Weiners seem to be encouraging — that Huma is ‘standing by her man’ the way Hillary did with Bill, which is not what she in fact did.” This provoked Weiner to insult his former patrons, further insulating them from his problems. “I am not terribly interested in what people who are not voters in the city of New York have to say,” he said in reference to the Clintons, the New York Daily News reported, a remark greeted with relief by those in Hillary Clinton’s orbit for creating public distance between the two camps.

That distance is now a gulf. The New York Times reported Thursday in great detail that Hillary Clinton’s ferociously loyal spokesman Philippe Reines swore at Weiner when he was informed of his post-resignation explicit communications. Reines then advised Abedin to distance herself from her husband’s campaign, the Times reported.

(MORE: A History Of “Sl#tb*g,” the Latest Unflattering Word Associated With Anthony Weiner)

But Hillary Clinton’s critics have also sought to use Weiner’s scandal as evidence of a broader trend in Clintonian politics. “The Huma-Hillary-Danger saga is déjà vu of some of the worst Clinton-land attributes,” says Tim Miller, executive director of the Republican America Rising PAC. “There’s anonymous leaking and infighting, an addiction to drama, and hunger for power over substance. Hillary’s nowhere on the big-issue debates of the moment but all over the tabloids. Democrats claim they’ve learned their lesson from the scandal-plagued ’90s and drama-soaked 2008 campaign, but the last week has been a replay of both. That doesn’t bode well for 2016.”

Even some Democrats admit that people in the Clintons’ orbit bring a lot of drama to the table. One former Obama campaign aide pointed to the bizarre leak about a Washington, D.C., dinner this week between Reines and Abedin to CNN. The source for the report was apparently deep enough in the inner circle to push back on assertions that the Clintons are “livid” about being compared to Weiner. The Obama aide said that if Hillary Clinton ran, the episode should serve as an example of just the type of process-driven drama to avoid.

Supporters insist Hillary Clinton made the right decision in standing by her trusted staffer. “Being loyal to Huma is important, I think, to show they can stick things like this out and be loyal to good people,” said one top Democratic communicator. “No drama from them here might show they’ve learned from the chaos, throw-people-under-the-bus approach of 2008.”

“As long as Hillary avoids photo ops with Huma in the next couple of months, this won’t affect Hillary’s run at all, and Hillary’s response simply reaffirms the lesson she learned long ago: fight back hard and fast,” Goldberg says. “That said, it’s impossible to see Huma having a high-profile campaign post if she and Weiner are still together — you don’t want people thinking Weiner photos when hearing your message.”

MORE: Anthony Weiner’s Brutal Week

84 comments
Zinnson4
Zinnson4

Clinton's problem with Weiner seems to revolve more around Huma Abedin. Why the concern and fixation about her well-being? For everyone is falling over themselves to ensure she's insulated from Weiner's meltdown into absurdity and oblivion, despite her insistence to stand by him. Is it a Hillary electoral strategy?

skeezy99
skeezy99

Obviously Weiner hasn't RECOVERED from anything. If he had any principles, he wouldn't allow his wife to risk her reputation telling lies to try to cover up his slimy, sick perversions.  What a doofus. Please make him go away. We have lots of problems as it is. He has NOTHING to offer. I suspect the only one who doesn't know this is Weiner....and for the love of GOD, lose that NAME!  thanks.

goodluck
goodluck

what did the american people get from this pair of misfits,liars,and users? did we get a living wage? no, we got millions of good jobs leaving the country. did we get medicare for all? no, we ended up with Obamacare,a pathetic substitute. did we get a regulated economy? no, we got derivatives, sub prime mortgages, unregulated hedge funds, and the 1% ers.

We got an opportunistic sec of state, a liar, married to a liar. It was bill who repealed the banking laws signed by FDR that kept the lid on banks. Now Chase and Goldman are cornering the aluminum market,pay zero interest on savings, and have a stranglehold on the US economy. so, anything giving grief to hilary and bill is miniscule compared to what this deceptive and destructive duo have done to us. another clinton in the presidency would spell doom for american workers, govt.healthcare, a living wage and anything else the clintons despise as "beneath them."

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/310198/questions-about-huma-abedin-andrew-c-mccarthy/page/0/1

"Ms. Abedin’s family ties render her unsuitable for a position that involves access to classified information about the Brotherhood. The shrieks aside, this is not remotely unreasonable, nor is it an inquisition into Ms. Abedin’s decency and rectitude. When I was a prosecutor, the Justice Department would not have let me take a case that involved friends of my family. It’s not that they didn’t trust me; it’s that government is supposed to avoid the appearance of impropriety — legitimacy hinges on the public’s belief that actions are taken on merit, not burdened by palpable conflicts of interest."Andrew Mc.Carthy National Review July 21st, 2012 - "Questions about Huma Abedin"

He has pointed out the State Department’s dramatic, Brotherhood-friendly policy shifts during Ms. Abedin’s tenure as a top adviser to the State Department’s boss.

In light of Ms. Abedin’s family history, is she someone who ought to have a security clearance, particularly one that would give her access to top-secret information? Is she, furthermore, someone who may be sympathetic to aspects of the Brotherhood’s agenda, such that Americans ought to be concerned that she is helping shape American foreign policy?

No criminal behavior need be shown to deny a security clearance; access to classified information is not a right, and reasonable fear of “divided loyalties” is more than sufficient for a clearance to be denied.

Quite apart from the Brotherhood’s self-proclaimed “grand jihad” to destroy the United States, which the Justice Department proved in federal court during the 2007–8 Holy Land Foundation prosecution, the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, publicly called for jihad against the United States in an October 2010 speech.

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

http://spectator.org/archives/2012/07/24/is-huma-abedin-the-new-alger-h/print

Is Huma Abedin the new Alger Hiss?

Is Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood what Alger Hiss was to the Soviet Union?

For example, according to “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within,” a product of the Center for Security Policy (MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com), the Department’s Deputy Chief of staff, Huma Abedin, has three family members — her late father, her mother and her brother — connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations. Her position affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making.

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

The scandal-rama with our public officials is putting me to the test as a taxpayer. I am sick of hearing about them and think those at the center - the scandalous - should experience some unfavorable turn other than all the free publicity they get. Cheeseballs like Clinton, Mark Sanford, David Vitter, Spitzer, Gingrich, Petraeus and other insect-like beings receive far too much coverage for all their "doings" and should be left to fade slowly away. I'd like that.

VivianPierse
VivianPierse

It appears that on a daily basis things are only going to get worse. According to a report this morning, TV stations are delaying airing Anthony Weiner's new campaign ad because it may violate FCC obscenity laws. http://goo.gl/GgjiYl

tommyudo
tommyudo

The  GOP will try to drive the narrative of the "drama" of the Clintons trumping substance by having MSM hacks regurgitating GOP talking points. This is why the GOP is so bat s**t crazy about the Clintons.  Bill, despite the impeachment, had a teflon coating when it came to the majority of voters. Hillary possesses the same quality. Teflon is what the amiable dope, Reagan, their "hero", had, and they can't deal with it when it comes to a teflon-coated Dem. The question for 2016, should she run, is what sacrificial lamb will the GOP toss out there. I suspect it will be a real Right Wing looney tune like Santorum or Cruz. The GOP will become so unhinged over a woman Prez that they will finally go over the deep end and split into two - the marginally sane and the totally insane.

JimDunbar
JimDunbar

Is this all u got on the next POTUS and first female of this so called exceptionally dumbed down low educated America who allows control of congress to Neanderthals?

grape_crush
grape_crush

> "Republicans are betting that Weiner’s antics will heighten voters’ sense of 'Clinton fatigue' — that by 2016 they won’t want to relive eight years of high drama and investigations. "

a) Wait, isn't that what we've been experiencing for the last four years anyway?

b) Wait, weren't Republicans the ones that instigated the 'high drama and investigations' during the Clinton years? 

Zeke, if you're going to present an analysis of something, try not to miss what the context of what you're writing about is...

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

MARK MY WORDS........!!!!!

After Anthony Weiner's EXIT from the Mayoral race, I will be least surprised if his MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IMPLANT wife Huma Abedin  will still stay on with him......

She will have any number of reasons to say "adieu".....to her perpetually cheating husband!

A little background......Huma is the daughter Saleha Abedin a Pakistani woman based in Saudi Arabia who's a founding member of THE MUSLIM SISTERHOOD and is a Muslim Brotherhood implant in Hillary Clinton's state dept. The MB themselves have claimed so many times.......without explicitly naming her or other implants such as RASHAD HASSAN, a MB defender and US Ambassador to the OIC, or IMAM RAUF (the Imam of the Ground Zero Cardoba VICTORY MOSQUE, and US Goodwill Ambassador to the ME, or CNN/Time's Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA an COVERT Islamist who's an external advisor to Pres. Obama. 

And, going by Huma's agenda marrying Anthony Weiner made perfect sense who is Jewish, influential, smart, and at that time was a rising star in the Democratic party. What better way to flaunt your credentials than having a Jewish man, a potential NY mayor (which is way more powerful than being the Gov. of most US states) to carry on with her ISLAMIC AGENDA!

Now with Anthony Weiner showing his disdain for the Clinton's, and the Clinton's not happy with Huma still clinging to her husband, it's certain Huma will distance herself from her husband. Again she may find that necessary to stay on in the Clinton's good books (given the on-going comparisons between Huma and Hillary herself!) so that she gets a shot at being in the topmost echelons when Hillary steps into the Presidential race.

Same is the case with Time/CNN's covert Islamist  Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA who continues to stay married (even though in a deeply TROUBLED marriage) with Paula Throckmorton who's also Jewish.

Will keep my fingers crossed......until then!

MrObvious
MrObvious

Does that make sense? Guilt by association is among the oldest and perhaps most idiotic of fallacies. 

Sherm
Sherm

I hope Hillary has a hotline to Huma, because she wears the pants in the family.  No pun intended.

FrankRommey
FrankRommey

Weiner's scandalous behavior is hurting the entire nation, not Democrats or even Hillary Clinton. Weiner's wife no longer works as Hillary's chief of staff, according to the reports. And she shouldn't work for any decent politician, just because poor judgment... Perhaps District attorneys feel that Weiner isn't prosecutable, and they're entitled to their opinion, but the voters in NYC can and will judge his qualifications for the position he seeks, and certainly they won't be too kind... 

destor23
destor23

It has nothing to do with Clinton at all.  Weiner's wife works for Hilary Clinton.  Anything more is a stretch.

renfieldc
renfieldc

@goodluck That's exactly what I'd say if I was an American, except to add, "It's the same political Mafia aiming to hold on to power".

Realworldnonfantasyland
Realworldnonfantasyland

@lordofthefly DON"T WATCH THE NEWS.  THE NEWS IS ENTERTAINMENT, IT ISN"T NEWS.  ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS EYEBALLS, SCANDAL EQUALS EYEBALLS.  You will feel so much better about yourself if you just learn to ignore the fake scandals out there.  The only reason I am on this page is because i'm immature and think that the headline is funny.  I honestly have no idea what any of this is about....and I'm so much better for it

DanBruce
DanBruce

@tommyudo It's not just GOPers who can't stomach the Clintons. I, a lifelong Democrat (except I couldn't vote for George McGovern) have been repeatedly ebarrassed by them. I don't want another Clinton presidency and will campaign to see that doesn't happen and will not vote for Hillary if she is the Democratic nominee (I may have to not vote). Plus, I don't want Bill Clinton anywhere near the Oval Office again. He greatly diminished the office first time around. Only the ineptitude of GWB keeps people from remembering just how disappointing the Clintons performane was when they had the chance to do great things.

grape_crush
grape_crush

 @tommyudo > The  GOP will try to drive the narrative of the "drama" of the Clintons trumping substance by having MSM hacks regurgitating GOP talking points.

Exactly. This is only a problem for Clinton because GOPers and their media stenographers say it's a problem for Clinton.

cent-fan
cent-fan

@FrankRommey Silvio Berlusconi just got nailed for 10 million in unpaid taxes after God knows how many tries for everything from... I dunno... sex with under-aged girls to misappropriation of public funds.  Step out of our borders and we're in Dante's Inferno... apparently.  Maybe we should look at things with a more worldly perspective... perspective being the operative word.  At the very least we should lash out at the corporate press (my favorite root of evil) for rubbing our nose in this crap every chance they get and wasting the potential of making us actual informed citizens on subjects other than the sex patterns of the rich and famous.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@FrankRommey What about Sanford's scandalous behavior? Vitter's? The clown in Tennessee that forced his mistress to get an abortion while running and winning as a prolife Tea Party Congressman?

MrObvious
MrObvious

@FrankRommey 

It's not criminal to be a DB and slime. We don't live in a society with arbitrary morality laws. Thank God.

DanBruce
DanBruce

@destor23 The parallels are inescapable. Two women who enable their married men who repeatedly behave inexcusably toward younger unmarried women and, in doing so, both husband and wife show utter disregard for their public responsibilities (just think what Bill Clinton could have accomplished during his second term if he had kept his pants zipped, and Al Gore would have been president for possibly eight years instead of GWB, all the while the women standing by their man to minimize the political damage). I think all have betrayed the public trust.

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

@mantisdragon91 @Amit-Atlanta-USA

The fact is in today's Digital World nobody can cover up their background. Just a few mouse clicks, and you get to know everything. So, irrespective of what the National Review says (or for that matter CNN, Time, NBC, ABC etc. say), it's ONLY the naïve/gullible one's who take those as GOSPEL! Others, who have even with basic intellect, will verify through countless other sources on the web.

Just as an example check out Huma Abedin's background on Wikipedia. She has herself has been an Asst. Editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs a Muslim Brotherhood inspired publication. Also check out the background of her brother, mother and late father.

So it's easy to write a insulting/worthless one line rejoinder ( I need to get my tin foil hat off, or I need to take my meds. etc.!). I have no arguments with such INTELLECTUAL CHALLENGED people!

PLEASE GET SOME (BASIC) EDUCATION BEFORE YOU SHOOT THOSE ONE LINERS!

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

@TyPollard @Amit-Atlanta-USA

"Likely No" !!!!

Heard of the term "ZERO TOLERANCE"?

When the nation's security is at stake the answer must "H$LL NO", we can't be satisfied by saying we are 99% confident that she is a safe bet.

We can bring in the space analogy here, NASA would not accept a supplier of components who guarantees meeting QA stds. 99.9% of the times.....it has got be very close to 100%. If the co. has QA issues even if that is due to past association (in the parent company, or a sister (brother) company, there is every likelihood they will never a chance.

In the case of Ms.Abedin, we are in fact several steps into the game; there is enough reason not to  trust her with the nation's highest security secrets, NOT merely because of her association (Father, Mother, Brother etc.), but by her own track record of being a mouth piece for a MB inspired magazine.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@bryanfred1 @tommyudo 


Young Mr. Miller is turning into an estimable hack. I trust he is learning the fine points of stenography from  the likes  of Joe Klein and Michael Scherer.

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

@cent-fan @FrankRommey I'm afraid you ask too much of the press.  It no longer consists of investigative reporters and subject matter experts.  In the age of page hits as the ultimate metric of success, I expect it's tabloid-quality coverage from here on out.

destor23
destor23

@DanBruce 1) Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton's personal lives are not intertwined.  2) Neither "betrayed the public trust," by their sexual proclivities.  If anything, the public betrayed itself with its prudish attitudes towards sex.

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

@mantisdragon91 @Amit-Atlanta-USA 

Have you heard of a term called "CONFLICT OF INTERESTS"?

Even assuming that Huma herself had a clean background, the mere fact that she has immediate family members who are senior level operatives with organizations that are deemed dangerous to America, should PRECLUDE her from such highly sensitive positions upon which the nation's security hinges.

Good Bye Friend!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Amit-Atlanta-USA @mantisdragon91  She was a editor for a publication and this makes a Muslim Brotherhood plant? What a sad paranoid life you must lead. And if we are going to judge people by the background of their families, I guess that would make GWB a Nazi supporter seeing as his Grandfather helped finance Hitler's rise to power and continued to do business with him all the way into 1942 when the US was already at war with Germany.

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

@TyPollard @Amit-Atlanta-USA

The irony is, in the aftermath of 9/11. Time Square/Boston Bombings, Major Nadal Hassan's killings, none of these "so-called" defenders of Americans Freedoms/Constitution came out attacking the Fed./Police when they revealed their sources of inspiration/finance etc. by monitoring their emails/chats, financial transactions, movements etc. (even though many were after the fact).

Remember all these bombers/killers were as innocent as I & U whose privacy rights were violated.

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

@TyPollard @Amit-Atlanta-USA 

I don't mind using less of my freedoms (as enshrined in the US Constitution) when it pertains to the nation's security.

Being myself a Brown Man, I don't mind one bit when I am pulled aside by a/p security for additional checks based on my looks alone, ONLY b'coz I don't want to jeopardize my and my fellow passenger's security when someone who looks like me gets a pass in the garb of political correctness and in the name of our great freedoms!

In that sense I am a strong supporter of NSA surveillance. Remember the 9/11 hijackers, the Boston and Times Square and ofcourse Maj. Nadal Hassan (heard of any of them?????) all were as innocent as I am, BEFORE they turned out to be bombers/killers.

SO FREEDOMS COME WITH LIMITS, when something INDEED goes wrong, it's you guys (so-called UNABASHED defenders of freedoms/constitution) who are the first guys questioning the police, FBI, govt. on WHY THEY WERE NAPPING!!!.

I "WAS"glad that unlike my former homeland India, and Europe who have put their nations' security at jeopardy in the garb of freedoms and political correctness, America was a lot more vigilant of "POTENTIAL" enemies within..........

But, thanks to untiring efforts of people like Huma Abedin, Fareed Zakaria, Dean Obeidallah, Imam Rauf, Rashad Hassan, and hugely naïve Hillary Clinton, John Kerry (even John McCain) and President Obama, things are fast changing in America too!

Remember it's necessary for the radicals to recreate a 9/11, or 7/7, or 26/11 to BRING ARROGANT, ANTI-ISLAMIC, AMERICA DOWN on its knees, there are countless ways to achieve just that.........

That's how TROJANs work...... a computer virus that sabotages everything... unseen, unheard of, but doing its job quietly........from within!

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

@destor23 @DanBruce Yes the actual acts were committed in their personal lives, but they show such a lack of judgment or self-restraint and willingness to lie to their spouses and the public (and in Clinton's case, Congress) that it is reasonable to question their fitness for public office.  It is hardly prudish to believe that integrity and personal judgment are key ingredients for effective leadership.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@StephenSwain @destor23 @DanBruce Beyond that little weiner is a moron and needs mental help experts to help him with his penis short comings and his wife unless she is in to what he does, needs to find a real man that can service her correctly.

StephenSwain
StephenSwain

@destor23 @StephenSwain @DanBruce Perhaps.  But he was also disbarred as a result of his lying.  Bill Clinton was a lifelong, habitual liar.  I voted for him the first go-around.  I personally like his style and his intellect.  But Bill is not a guy I would do a deal with to save anything I cared about.  It did occur to me that Newt Gingrich, who was leading the witch hunt, was no great shining star of integrity.  He's a disgusting man who should be off on Mars with his propeller-hat spinning wildly.

destor23
destor23

@StephenSwain @destor23 @DanBruce I agree that Weiner should have manned up and immediately said, "Yes, I did it and I'm not sorry to you, but I'll work it out with my wife."  And that would have been that.

Clinton lied under oath but was only put under oath as part of the stupidest witch hunt in modern American politics.  I don't think that lying to Ken Starr should be considered a crime or even a lapse.  To heck with Starr.

StephenSwain
StephenSwain

@destor23 @DanBruce One caveat:  They, Bill and Tony, both lied.  Bill lied under oath.  That is a crime.  Weiner's crime is not knowing how and when to cut his losses, so to speak.

destor23
destor23

@Piacevole @destor23 @DanBruce If Abedin is a good employee to Clinton then she should not get rid of the woman over her husband.

As for prudishness -- I'd say judging anybody else's consensual sexual activity is prudish.  If you don't like it, don't do it.

Piacevole
Piacevole

@destor23 @DanBruce I don't actually think that people have to be considered "prudish" because they find the notion of someone sending crotch shots to women is a bit outre'.

I don't think Weiner's utter lack of judgment should reflect on the Clintons, though.  They got through their judgment gaffe years ago.  The question is whether Mrs. Clinton can afford to keep Mrs. Weiner in her employ, given Weiner's determination to be politically oblivious and loud about it.