The recent Huma Abedin interview in People probably strikes many as a more or less forgettable red-meat story for conservatives. We already knew something was weird with this gal, although sure enough, it gets a little weirder yet:
Clinton’s longtime aide raves about the former secretary of state as she recounts their meeting: “You know these things that happen in your life that just stick? She walked by and she shook my hand and our eyes connected and I just remember having this moment where I thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ “
“And it just inspired me. You know, I still remember the look on her face. And it’s funny, and she would probably be so annoyed that I say this, but I remember thinking; ‘Oh my God, she’s so beautiful and she’s so little!’ “
So the usual outlets post it up, and we scroll down to the comments to peek at few of the ugly jokes about Hillary’s sex life. Yawn. Yuck. Time to move on to the next story.
But I’d advise you to look again, and to think. Huma’s statement to People is so daft in the way it draws attention and lends credibility to the rumors about her and Hillary being lovers that it seems at least as likely to be a statement made for inner-circle tactical reasons as one sincerely made in an unguarded moment.
If it is the former, that would be very disturbing, because it would mean that along with every other sign of the corruption permeating the House of Clinton, we’re seeing that in the midst of Hillary’s primary campaign, a top aide issues an implicit threat to reveal more of what she knows, or to tell more believable tales, unless she gets the attention, power, and promises she is after. And yes, her Muslim Brotherhood connections are very serious ones. Even if we someday learn that Huma’s motivations to get into Clinton’s circle were fundamentally detached from any foreign and/or Islamist agenda, what I suspect this statement reveals about her relationship with Hillary is quite troubling.
Again, it could just be an unguarded moment in which a genuinely homosexual attraction to another of the same sex, or, a merely marginally-erotic one, is revealed. And can’t a heterosexual woman observe that another woman she is close to is beautiful without suggesting that she harbors gay thoughts? Well yes, but speaking the way Huma did takes a certain obliviousness in our era. Moreover, another of Huma’s statements in the interview, that “I think that if my boss quit tomorrow, she will go down as one of the greatest American women in the history of the world,” sounds air-head enough that it suggests that she is just the sort of unintelligent and unsophisticated type capable of making the “she’s so beautiful” statement with utter sincerity, and unaware of what will be read into it.
And Abedin not only presents herself as being unsophisticated in her manner of speaking, but also in her approach to political life:
“I have a policy,” she added. “I never read anything about myself. I could count on one hand how many actual interviews I’ve done. I’ll never read them. I just don’t want to know. If it’s about me personally, I honestly just ignore it.”
Well, that strikes the reader as understandable, given the Hillary’s lesbian lover! speculations that grew up around her early on. Don’t we all detest what we see in the comments on any story about Huma? Who could blame her for not wanting to read those?
But wait a sec . . . this is coming from a woman who is said to be “one of the key glues that holds Clintonworld together”? Who married, and stayed married to, Anthony Weiner? Who used her connection with Clinton to pressure Democratic donors to back his shameless and ill-fated mayoral run, and who, if one friend of hers is to be believed, at the same time covered over what she knew about his continued sexual disorders?
She never reads anything about herself?
Hmm . . .
Let’s add it all up. Option one: Huma Abedin is a sophisticated-in-some-ways woman, and a very connected one, who in other fundamental ways is very naïve. The latter half of her character is seen in the way she just spills out what she recalls about the first time she connected with Hillary, and in the way she tries to keep herself from knowing the speculation about herself, apparently so she can concentrate on her job. That’s the impression this People interview seems designed to give us, assuming it has a design. From a more critical perspective, Huma’s lack of sophistication might also be seen in the way Anthony Weiner used (and uses?) her for his ambitions, and maybe also in the way her family possibly sought to use her to push their Islamist interests in American politics, possibly without her being fully aware of their motives.
The way her beauty and connections have exempted her from certain hardships have contributed to the too-trusting side of her character. One puff-piece spoke of her unintentionally conveying a certain “vulnerability” alongside her professionalism. By the option-one scenario, Hillary could be seen as another who exploits this. Huma works for her with the understanding that that naïve side of her character is an asset — a key part of her job is to remain innocent about the darker inner-workings of “Clintonworld” even while becoming expert about every aspect of its above-board workings.
Option two: this is all an act. Sh is thoroughly sophisticated in the political sense, even if she can easily fall into an air-head-ish or naïve way of talking. She knew the key facts about what her family was about. She knew the key facts about what her husband was about. Perhaps in both instances she played dumber than she was the better to serve her own agendas, but she knew the basics. She does the same with Hillary, albeit with not a few knowing winks between the two. Her innocent image may be insulated from the darker corners of Clintonworld, but not her mind.
And so of course she keeps tabs upon the rumors swirling about herself that come from more serious sources. Doing so involves reading what prominent journalists and bloggers say, and having conversations that relay the general tenor of the rumors common on lesser outlets or comment boards. Even if she looks into all this much less than we would suspect, she knew the basics about the lesbian rumors, and thus knew quite well the way her statement shared with People would be publicized, and how it would look. There is little possibility that the interviewer maneuvered a politically savvy woman like her into speaking unguardedly on something like that. Which would mean Huma wants that story out there, and the only possible motive she could have for that must be to pressure or manipulate Hillary in some way.
I think the second explanation is more likely. And what other explanations besides these two could there be?
We might posit an option three, in which this was just an unexpected slip-up, and one that doesn’t reveal much either way about how naïve or how sophisticated she is. Cunning ones sometimes forget themselves, after all. It’s just a random occurrence — the memory of thinking Hillary was strikingly small and beautiful really was in her mind, and before she could think about why she shouldn’t share it, the interviewer’s question had elicited it from her. Could be.
But sticking to this third option seems to involve a pretty willful agnosticism, and one that ignores the rest of the interview. Does it really pass the smell test that she doesn’t read or obtain summary information about the stories written about her? Or how can it, unless she really is the sort of person sketched in option one?
If we accept the first option as most likely, it is not without its own sort of scandal. The Muslim Brotherhood connections remain deeply troubling. The possibility of a lesbian affair is still there, and while that is less inherently scandalous than the Brotherhood-influence possibility, it nonetheless could cost Hillary the election were evidence of it to emerge. Moreover, the way Abedin’s comparative innocence has been used by various parties, which anyone who regards the first option as the true one must admit has happened, is rather ugly, as is her own partial and developing complicity in this use.
And do note, if the second option is correct, which seems more likely to be the case, it does not matter much whether Hillary and Huma have ever been lesbian lovers. All that matters is that there has been some kind of genuine connection between them, which has led to rumors of a love affair, rumors that Huma is now seeking to exploit for her own purposes. Are these Muslim Brotherhood purposes? Self-interested purposes? Or, given the smear-employing reputation of the Clintons, self-protection purposes? Or are all these purposes at work?
Do not focus upon whether the lesbian-love rumors are true, nor upon the viciousness of those who gleefully embrace them as true without knowing, but upon the undeniable fact that they do exist, which means they could and can be exploited by Huma.
Yes, as I have indicated, it remains well within the realm of possibility that the speculations that make up this second explanation are incorrect. But even if they turn out to be wrong, it is certainly the case that Hillary has brought them upon herself by sticking so closely by Huma despite what was revealed about her family’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and about her entanglement in the Weiner scandals. And it is certainly the case that the Democratic Party has brought them upon itself by — even more unaccountably — sticking with the House of Clinton.