Three years ago, we imagined a conversation between Silda Wall Spitzer and Hillary Clinton. At that time, we didn’t know that there was such a conversation, but this time around, we can be almost certain Hillary Clinton has had a consoling conversation with Huma Abedin, the newish wife of Congressman Anthony Weiner. For over a decade she’s been Clinton’s “body woman,” i.e. the aide-de-camp that basically takes care of Hillary’s life. There’s pretty much no chance this hasn’t come up, and you know us, we can’t resist an imaginary conversation, so.
[The Scene: Backstage at the Women’s World Cup Initiative Monday morning, just outside the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State. Huma Abedin enters, talking on the phone. Hillary sits expectantly, awaiting her usual prespeech Altoids.]
Huma: [Into phone.] If you had nipped this in the bud over the weekend and just said that was a picture of you somebody must have sent from your computer as a joke, this would have all ended!
Clinton: Is that Anthony on the phone? Tell him I told him not to go to Bill for advice. Why would anyone go to Bill for advice?? They don’t call him “Bubba” because it doesn’t sound like the name you’d give a pervert.
Huma: Hillary, will you let me handle this? I’m an adult. Now, open wide. [Hillary pouts for a moment, then opens her mouth.] Here’s your Altoid.
Hillary: Thank you.
Huma: [Back on phone.] What? There are shirtless pictures of you now? Are they the ones you sent me after you got your chest waxed? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T SAY WITH CERTITUDE?
[Hillary spits out her Altoid and snatches away the phone.]
Hillary: Listen here, pencil neck: If it comes out that any of this is real, you’re going to wish you were hiding in a bunker in Tripoli. DO YOU COPY? [She throws phone across the room, where it ricochets violently behind a couch. Huma watches it despondently.]
Huma: That was my third smartphone this month.
Hillary: Anything that’s smart enough to fuck you is not worth replacing for $499.
[Hours later, in Hillary’s office in the state department.]
Hillary: [Consolingly] I watched the press conference. I’m so sorry, Huma. Here, I got you a new iPhone and had the staff program it for you.
Huma: Thank you, that was very sweet.
Hillary: I’m so glad you weren’t there. Did he ask you to go up to New York and do the Silda Spitzer thing?
Huma: [Laughs bitterly.] No. He knows better than to want to be around me today. For Hanukkah he gave me krav maga classes.
Hillary: Good. When Bill asked me and Chelsea to hold hands with him while we walked into the helicopter that day back in 1998, I almost told him to take a high jump.
Huma: God, I remember how bad that was. Have we really been together that long?
HIllary: Much longer than your marriage, that’s for sure.
Huma: Anthony said there have been half a dozen women. What do I do? And don’t say that thing about “accidentally” leaving one of Madeleine Albright’s brooches in his office chair. I’m not doing that.
Hillary: Oh, I wasn’t being serious about that, obviously. It probably wouldn’t even puncture a testicle. So what did you say to him?
Huma: I told him I was mad and that it was a very dumb thing to do. My parents are so conservative, they’ll never get over it. But I also told him I loved him and I wanted him to pull through this. He was so upset, he was crying, and I just had this instinct to fix what was happening right now and leave the rest for later.
Hillary: Okay, the good thing about that strategy is that it will not only help him through the hardest part, it will help you. Finding an outside enemy rather than worrying about the one on your doorstep will give you something constructive to focus on, temporarily. I call it the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” approach.
Huma: Did that even work for you?
Hillary: I wasn’t sure at the time, but parts of that strategy — like when I very kindly arranged for a half-million-dollar line of credit at Tiffany a couple of years ago — have recently panned out.
Huma: But it’s not much of a permanent solution, huh?
Hillary: Well … I hesitate to put everything in the context of the Clintons … [Pause. They both burst out laughing.] Okay, That was a good one. But seriously, if you compare this to me and Bill, this is really nothing. Men flirt. That’s what they’ve always done. Now they can share photos of their junk with floozies they’ve never met. Can you imagine the nasty trail that would have been left if Bill could have direct-messaged that chubby intern? Forget the blue dress …
Huma: But it still feels like cheating, what Anthony did.
Hillary: Well, it is a kind of cheating. And he shouldn’t have done it. But you’re a beautiful, influential woman. As you grow in politics, men are going to flirt with you that way. And then you’re going to have to decide what you would do. In the meantime, you need to do some serious thinking about how you feel about this particular situation — and how the press glare is going to affect you.
Huma: Working at the State Department isn’t the kind of spotlight Anthony has, thank God.
Hillary: Oh, honey, don’t you see? Now you can run for office.
Huma: You say that to everybody.
Hillary: At least start by being my campaign manager for 2016. I promise I won’t pull a Solis Doyle.
Huma: [Laughs.] You say that to everybody.
Hillary: Seriously, you have your whole life ahead of you. I know this feels right now like this will define you, but it really won’t. The great thing is, it’ll define him.
Huma: That doesn’t sound so hot either.
Hillary: Oh, he can take it. There’s a reason why they invented the word cocky. But what I’m saying is, you can do whatever you want with your life, you have a clean slate. You can be anything.
Huma: Aw. Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow, right?
Hillary: [Laughs.] I’ve always hated that fucking song.
[They hug. Behind Huma’s back, Hillary pushes a button on her BlackBerry. On the desk, Huma’s phone lights up. It begins to play the chorus to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”]
Huma: Much better. Thanks.