The Clinton-Intimates-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 29 2013 11:28 AM

The Clinton-Intimates-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

She knows, but she won't tell.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press

The Internet is very angry, understandably so, about the lede of Maureen Dowd's latest column. Attempting to explain why Huma Abedin is sticking with her husband as he careens from disgrace to disgrace, Dowd offers that "Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet." That's the sort of prose that might be cut by an editor at Taki's Magazine; it actually echoes what Rush Limbaugh's been saying, which is not the sort of argument one usually strives for.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

I don't think that's the most interesting part of the column. That part comes when Dowd lets friends of the Clintons—recall that Bill Clinton officiated the Weiner-Abedin wedding—dish about the scandal's blowback.

They love Huma, but the Clintons, now showcasing philanthropy and public service preparatory to Hillary’s 2016 run, are not happy about getting dragged into the lewd spectacle that is a low-budget movie version of their masterpiece.
The former president is distancing himself, one associate said, noting, “He’s not getting anywhere near that grenade.”
Huma’s friends are “slapping-my-forehead astounded,” as one put it.

We know that Dowd's sources in Clintonworld are real, yet they refuse to name themselves even to make the most glancing attacks on the Weiner-Abedins. This is the pattern: Clinton "associates" and "intimates" will talk about the disgrace being brought on the enterprise, but you can't use their names. Karen Tumulty's and Jason Horowitz's excellent piece about Abedin had the same problem, albeit with better quotes.

Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has continued to aggressively work Clinton’s circle — to the annoyance of some — seeking support and financial contributions for Weiner’s mayoral bid.
“People like Huma, but they saw her trading on the Hillary card and resented it. But that didn’t mean they didn’t show up” for Weiner, said a Clinton intimate, one of several who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The chatter was, if you wanted to stay in Hillary’s good graces, you answer the call from Huma.”

And in the New York Post, Fred Dicker:

“The Clintons are pissed off that Weiner’s campaign is saying that Huma is just like Hillary,’’ said the source. “How dare they compare Huma with Hillary? Hillary was the first lady. Hillary was a senator. She was secretary of state.” ... Meanwhile, at least one prominent Hillary Rodham Clinton political operative was described as close to “going public’’ with a sharp criticism of Weiner — in order to send the message that the Clintons, fearing longtime damage to Hillary, want him out of the mayor’s race.

The anonymous Clintonites are dealing damage to Weiner the way they once built up him and his wife. They're letting the word get out that these people are really dreadful, but they're not putting their names behind the charges. It's like a Trollope novel, but with lobbyists.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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