More than two centuries after the first big American political sex scandal, the original Good Wife continues her eternal repose at the foot of her husband’s grave in Trinity Church cemetery in Lower Manhattan.
He of course has the grander stone, a white marble pyramid whose inscription reads:
The PATRIOT of incorruptible INTEGRITY.
The SOLDIER of approved VALOUR.
The STATESMAN of consummate WISDOM:
Whose TALENTS and VIRTUES will be admired
Long after this MARBLE will have mouldered into DUST.
He died July 12th, 1804, aged 47.”
Hers is a simple white stone slab laid flat, this inscription reading:
Born at Albany
Aug. 9th, 1757
Died at Washington
Nov. 9th 1854
The stone makes no mention of her own accomplishments, which included founding the country’s first private orphanage and spearheading the construction of the Washington Monument. Neither inscription hints that along with being a PATRIOT, SOLDIER, and STATESMAN of such INTEGRITY and VIRTUE, Alexander Hamilton was also a PHILANDERER who shtupped a twentysomething tootsie in his marital bed while his wife was away on vacation.
When the scandal broke, the political damage to Hamilton was mitigated by word that his mistress’ husband had been blackmailing him and that the whole thing might have been a set-up.
But what really saved him was his wife’s decision to remain at his side, just as Hillary Clinton would remain at Bill Clinton’s side after he was caught playing around with an intern, and just as Huma Abedin remained at Anthony Weiner’s side the first two times he was caught sexting with other women.
Even when it came to decidedly e-w-w-w transgressions such as Weiner’s, people generally seemed willing to take a cue from the wife when she was the one who had most cause to feel aggrieved.
How can you condemn a guy for cheating when his wife—the very one against whom he transgressed—signals in the most public ways that she is standing by him despite it all?
After his first sexting scandal forced Weiner to resign from Congress, Abedin was so rock steady that just two years later he was leading the polls in his comeback candidacy for mayor of New York City. Those hopes ended when he was caught again, but he still had Abedin. And her steadfast presence reinforced our general willingness to give somebody a second or even a third chance.
Weiner began writing for a newspaper and appearing on television news shows. He was not greatly exaggerating when he texted somebody: “I’m a big wheel in this town.”
Unfortunately, those words appear to have been part of a chat that veered into more sexting, including a selfie of Weiner’s famous “package.” The difference this time was that Weiner apparently took the photo while he was in bed with his toddler son.
Abedin here apparently reached a limit, along with the rest of us. Weiner is now not even a nobody in New York and it is suddenly hard to imagine how he will continue living here. The only place where he might be a big wheel is in Miracle Village, Florida, which has become a refuge for convicted sex offenders. Weiner has never been arrested, but that selfie of him with his kid in the bed could make him a shoo-in for mayor there.
Trump naturally sought political advantage in the new scandal involving the husband of Hillary’s top aide. Trump suggested, “Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Anthony Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information.”
In the same statement that offered this ridiculous assertion, Trump was actually right about something. He said of Abedin’s decision to separate from Weiner, “She will be better off without him.”
That was true enough, but as she steps away, Abedin leaves us with the example of someone who strove for years to do all she could to save her marriage, perhaps out of love, certainly for the sake of her son.
Abedin is a true sister in spirit to Eliza Hamilton and all the Good Wives who followed. Maybe Weiner imagined that her being such a Good Wife meant she would stand by him no matter what his compulsions prompted him to do.
But a true Good Wife is not a sap. And she is no less a Good Wife if she decides that staying is no longer in the best interests of herself and her family.
Someone as smart and strong and determined and altogether wonderful as Eliza Hamilton could surely have found somebody else had she so chosen in the half-century between her husband’s death and her own. She is not taking her eternal rest at the foot of his grave because she had no other options in life.
Abedin, like Eliza a Great American as well as a Good Wife, also surely has other options. One of them is to leave her e-w-w-w husband and concentrate on helping another Good Wife become the first woman president.
As for Weiner, the thing to do now is to honor Abedin and forget him altogether.