Huma’s Choice

When Anne-Marie Slaughter first became director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State, she had what she thought the perfect job. The work was fascinating, important, and right up her alley. Her husband and two young sons lived not far away, in Princeton, New Jersey. His position was such that he was able to be close to a full-time father. And Slaughter had what she herself has described as a “tremendously supportive boss,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But, after a time, Slaughter found her situation untenable. As she has repeatedly told, including in her book, Unfinished Business, once she perceived that her children needed her home more that she could possibly be while properly performing her job, she found her situation untenable – so she quit. Slaughter left her dream job to return for a time to the family fold.

Ironically, though their circumstances are different, the Vice Chairwoman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Huma Abedin, now finds herself similarly situated. Earlier today she announced her separation from Anthony Weiner, the former Congressman who is, again, ensnared in a sexting scandal. While I cannot know for certain, it seems reasonable to surmise that Abedin stuck it out for so long with Weiner, who has a troubling history of aberrant behavior, because, in addition to her all-consuming job, she has a young son.

By every account, she and Clinton, who have worked together for twenty years, are exceedingly close. But this will not save Abedin from having to make a choice similar to the one that Slaughter faced. Both women were elevated by Hillary Clinton to positions of singular prominence – which, however, did not spare both women from having to make a singularly difficult decision. There is no reason to presume that Abedin will decide as Slaughter did, to leave Clinton’s side to be with her child. But it would not surprise me if she did or if, at least, she opts to considerably lessen her professional commitment, at least for now.

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