Based on the polls, it seems pretty clear that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has got either the best chance or the second-best chance at becoming the next president of the United States. And that means there are a host of questions those of us in the media should start planning to answer.
Chief among them: How many more profiles of Huma Abedin need to be written? Not a lot, right?
This is pretty important. Should Clinton win, she’s going to spend four years in the Beltway limelight. And with so little to talk about most of the time (besides the gutting of Social Security), the temptation to start commissioning profiles of Abedin will be too great for many people to resist.
Abedin, as you may have heard, is Hillary Clinton’s celebrated “body woman.” She is also the estranged spouse of implacable sext-monster and former New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner ― a fact that you may want to not ride too hard if you’re angling to get her participation in a profile, I’m guessing.
“Body woman” is the feminine form of “body man,” the insider-y term for “a person who is always hanging around a given politician, usually holding, like, a satchel and a phone, and probably also some breath mints ― you know, a roll of Certs or something. Also some Zantac would be a good idea?” As such, Abedin is an endless source of fascination for the Beltway press, especially people who like to put the term “body woman” in stories.
And that is a lot of people. So you can probably see the problem: The “Huma Abedin profile” genre is very overpopulated.
For example, you can read the 2016 Vogue profile (”Abedin is in many ways the engine at the center of Clinton’s well-run machine, crucial and yet largely out of sight”), or the 2016 Vanity Fair profile (”Whatever the title, the job she performs for Hillary has always been essentially the same: confessor, confidante, and constant companion”), or a 2016 Newsweek profile (”[Her] selfless servility and uncanny knack for predicting what the boss wants have put her closer than almost anyone to the most powerful woman in American politics”), or a 2015 Politico profile (”Like a mother monitoring her child on the playground, she never let Clinton drift out of her line of sight, ever vigilant and poised to act”), or a 2016 Los Angeles Times profile (”Abedin, who has been referred to as Clinton’s ‘second daughter,’ is the gatekeeper to the nominee”).
Now, Politico has gone back for a second bite of the apple, using the volume of recent WikiLeaks disclosures to profile Abedin anew. What did they learn? “Neither simply body woman or scheduler, Clinton’s long-time aide acts as shield, translator, and history keeper.”
Didn’t we know that already? I thought we knew that already?
The WikiLeaks release of thousands of stolen campaign emails — the authenticity of which the campaign has neither verified nor denied — shed new light on her unique internal role this cycle: Abedin has been around so long (she started her career as an intern in the first lady’s office), she’s become more than a body woman.
She is now Clinton’s external hard drive.
She’s an external hard drive? Um, that’s not working for me, Politico. It reads as, “She’s become more than a body woman ― she’s also backup storage for Hillary Clinton’s digitized music collection.” Right? So not feeling this metaphor, sorry.
As we can see, it’s reaching a point where these profiles all have something of a strained quality, even if they come with a fresh news hook. I’m thinking the rule of diminishing returns might be in effect. So this is a good time to set some hard and fast limits on the number of Huma Abedin profiles that we allow to be written in the next four years. To my mind, it’s five, tops.
I’m being really generous, here. Meeting everyone halfway and whatnot.
So! Here are some specifics:
1. Mark Leibovich gets to write one. I think that’s in the Constitution somewhere.
2. Let’s have one really crazy-ass one from, like, Infowars or something. I know it’s irresponsible to encourage Alex Jonesian crackpots to take a run at profiling Abedin, but honestly, they’re going to do it one way or another. And if it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly. Just get on with it, guys. And challenge yourselves: Either really deliver the goods or make it entertainingly bonkers-sauce.
3. There should be one from a talented woman with a wry, offbeat perspective who’ll shake me loose from my middle-class-white-guy point of view and get me thinking more about the lives of others. Let’s have The New York Times’ Emma Roller and New York magazine’s Marin Cogan just work out between themselves who’s going to handle it.
4. We’ll have one more really tired regurgitation of the previously written profiles. Just so I can write a post about how it’s a really tired regurgitation of the previously written profiles. Who’s up for it? Time magazine, you look thirsty. Pistols at dawn with Bloomberg Businessweek. (It’s really too bad that Portfolio didn’t last long enough to do this story. What might have been.)
5. Garden & Gun gets to do one. Garden & Gun is, like, the best damn magazine in America. They get to do one of everything.
That’s it. No more.
And in case you were wondering, yes, I will be handling “The Oral History Of Huma Abedin Profiles” for HuffPost Highline. Look for it in October 2019.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.