Family Matters

Weiner’s Wife Dodges the Role of Supportive Spouse

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Andrew Savulich / NY Daily News via Getty Images

Congressman Anthony Weiner walks with his wife Huma Abedin near their Forest Hills, N.Y., apartment

With the world a-Twitter over suggestive photos that the aptly named New York Representative Anthony Weiner dispatched to at least six women he didn’t know, it’s hard to deny that these are squirm-inducing days for the wives and daughters of male politicos who can’t keep their pants zipped.

On June 3, brave daughter Cate Edwards trudged alongside her dad John as the former presidential hopeful was indicted for allegedly misusing campaign money to keep his pregnant mistress hidden.

(More on The Weiner Case: When Is Tweeting Cheating?)

Last month, Maria Shriver got a standing ovation when she appeared onstage for a taping of Oprah Winfrey’s penultimate show just 24 hours after hubby and ex-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly acknowledged that he fathered a son with their former housekeeper.

And then there’s Huma Abedin, Weiner’s exceptionally accomplished and elegant bride, whom those outside the Beltway are just learning about. Weiner and Abedin, a longtime senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were married last July. Irony alert: Bill Clinton — no stranger to humiliating press conferences or extramarital trysts — officiated.

The New York Post reports that Abedin made a brief appearance on June 3 — when Weiner was still adamantly denying that the bulging-briefs JPEG was not his, or at the very least, that he couldn’t say with “certitude” that it was — at a State Department event: “Wearing a black pant suit and a prominent pearl necklace, Abedin never cracked a smile and kept her distance from the former first lady. She ducked out long before the event finished.”

(More on The Good Daughter: Cate Edwards Stands by Her Indicted Father)

Perhaps it was just too unbearable to come face to face with another woman whose relationship had been oh-so-publicly shamed. Perhaps it was a mistake, since Clinton could have undoubtedly offered sage counsel on how to rise above the smuttiness and stand by her man — if that’s what Abedin intended to do.

On June 6, there was a conspicuously empty spot beside Weiner when he teared up, fessed up and claimed the crotch shot — mercifully with gray undies — as his own. He’d accidentally tweeted it out, then panicked; it had been intended for viewing only by a woman in Seattle with whom he’d developed an online relationship. But what of the handful of other steamy pics, most notably the denuded chest shot, snapped in front of what appears to be a credenza topped with framed family photos? It’s hard to tell, but the picture in the bottom left corner appears to be Weiner with Abedin. Any good photographer knows that backgrounds matter.

(More on TIME.comThe Caligula Effect: Why Powerful Men Compulsively Cheat)

“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.”

Yet apparently Abedin doesn’t love him so much that she felt compelled to accompany him to his mortifying press conference. According to the Washington Post:

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.

In opting out, Abedin parted company with the Silda Spitzers (husband Eliot Spitzer cavorted with prostitutes, then landed a CNN gig) and Dina McGreeveys (imagine flanking your husband while he announces he’s gay) of the world and cast her lot with the likes of fed-up spouses such as Shriver and Elizabeth Edwards, both of whom initially stood arm in arm with their philandering husbands but later got good and mad.

(More on TIME.comThe Schwarzenegger Kids: Coping with Parental Betrayal in the Public Eye)

“Think Abedin will say anything about her husband’s news conference?” wondered the Post. “The notoriously private aide to Secretary of State Clinton never talked during the good times; highly unlikely we’ll hear anything from her now.”

It’s too bad her new husband couldn’t exercise the same sort of restraint.