The PJ Tatler

The missing woman in Weinergate

The missing woman at Rep. Anthony Weiner’s tell-all press conference was his newlywed Muslim-American wife Huma Abedin.  At the moment she is in seclusion and an air of mystery is enveloping her. For years Huma has been one of the premier Washington mystery women.  She has been both a Muslim who has lived in the political shadows of Washington power and a eye popping glamor girl, posing in a very sexy 2007 photo spread in Vogue.

Until recently, Huma seemed to be the woman who had it all.  She was an inseparable “traveling chief of staff” to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Weiner, with a reptuation in D.C. as a perpetual womanizer, was a former aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer and an aspirant to become the next Jewish mayor of New York City. They were a power couple on steroids whose bosses were both superstars.  They were married at a wedding only 11 months ago officiated by Bill Clinton.

Now as the sordid details of Weiner’s own lewd virtual sexual affairs hang out, people are wondering which Huma will emerge?  Is it the conservative Muslim woman or the glitzy Broadway gal? The fact she did not walk out by his side at today’s news conference indicates she is not like Silda Wall Spitzer, Eliot Spitzer’s now divorced wife.

Officially, Huma has been known as the senior adviser to Secretary Clinton. Few eyebrows were raised when Hillary took in this Muslim woman who grew up in Saudi Arabia and placed her into the inner sanctum of the Office of  Secretary of State. She has access to America’s top diplomatic and intelligence secrets.

Part of the reason is that Huma has been a fixture next to Hillary since her White House days.  She has been called as Hillary Clinton’s “body girl,” her confidant and her “secret weapon.” They are inseparable. This has led to unsubstantiated and ugly rumors about the two. Other accounts say they have an“older sister-younger sister relationship.” Perhaps of some assistance to Huma is the fact that she was at Hillary’s side throughout Whitewater, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Clinton’s impeachment proceedings.

When Huma wants to be public, she is very public. That’s why her absence tody is more graphic.  She was a sexy glamor girl who, although she earned a limited salary, found ways to wear Oscar de la Renta gowns, Prada accessories and Yves Saint Laurent handbags. “I love Huma,” gushed Oscar de la Renta in an interview with the New York Observer.  “I think she has special powers,” said public-radio broadcaster Katia Dunn to the same paper, saying there is a “cult of Huma” in D.C.  Noted James Carville : ““Her appearance is just like, ‘Hoh my God!’ She takes your breath away. She’s an unbelievably, stunningly gorgeous woman.”

Then there is the more mysterious part of Huma.  At Hillary’s side, she is the one of the highest ranking Muslim-Americans in federal service. She rarely speaks about her Muslim past growing up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her Pakistani mother is a fundamentalist Saudi director of a woman’s school. Her late father was an Indian Muslim scholar.  In an e-mail to the Observer Jordan’s Queen Noor said she loved Huma : “She is loyal, intelligent, diplomatic, energetic and brings a broader understanding to the table—one that I wish there was more of in the world.”

Huma’s mother is still a fundamentalist Saudi living in Jeddah.  Her mother seems to be referred to, variously, as “Saleha Abedin”, “Saleha Mahmood Abedin”, “Saleha S. Mahmood Abedin”, and “Saleha S. Mahmood”. She is the director of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (London), the editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (Oxford), professor of Sociology, Director of General Education and Founder, Dar Al-Hekma College (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia). She also is the chairperson of the International Islamic Committee for Woman and Child (Amman, Jordan).

Weinergate probably is not sitting well with Huma’s mother.  And although Huma has flaunted it on many occasions, the suspicion is that she is not feeling very well about her evasive, arrogant husband who compulsively exposed himself to under age girls.  And Hillary, who had to live with her own husband’s illicit sexual liaisons, probably has a few sisterly thoughts to share with her Muslim-American aide de camp.

Still, while the nation is trying to figure out who is this nut case named Anthony Weiner, others are asking, who exactly is Huma Abedin?