Here, you are urged and encouraged to run your mouths about something important.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Memo to Dana Milbank: Did you read the Vogue piece on Huma Abedin before citing it?

Wish I would have caught this earlier but just noticed something about the 2007 Vogue feature article on Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's closest advisor. Nearly two weeks ago, during a press conference at the National Press Club, Andrew McCarthy laid out his case for why the questions raised about Huma Abedin's background are legitimate. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, wrote the following in his article about that case, which he distorted:
If Abedin is in fact a Muslim Brotherhood plant spreading sharia law in the United States, she’s using unorthodox methods: posing provocatively for a Vogue spread, then marrying and having the child of a Jewish congressman who sent out a photo of his genitals on Twitter. As Clinton’s personal aide, helping her boss with suits and handbags and logistics, she has not been in an ideal position to advance the alleged cause. Even McCarthy admits that she’s “not a policymaker.”

Then why go after her? It’s hard to escape the suspicion that it has something to do with the way she looks and how she worships.
McCarthy actually responded to Milbank's subtle screed by directing him to read the words of the Washington Post from one year earlier. Aside from violating a tenet of journalism by questioning McCarthy's motives (Chris Matthews' words), Milbank's reference to the Vogue article that featured Abedin, coupled with his subsequent assertion that Abedin is little more than a gopher for Hillary Clinton is inconsistent with the very Vogue piece he made reference to.

First of all, have a look at the cover page of the article:

hillary's secret weapon...
Huma Abedin: oversees every minute of Senator Clinton's day: Rebecca Johnson keeps pace with an indespensible insider.
Some relevant excerpts via Political Girl, which has posted the entire article:
“Both Hillary and Huma are extraordinary people who are also workaholics,” says Oscar de la Renta, who has often hosted the two at his house in the Dominican Republic. “The E-mailing! It never stops. I tell Hillary, ‘Just because you are working in the sun, that doesn’t make it a vacation.’ They are lucky to have found each other.”

“I don’t think you could say they are like mother and daughter. It’s more like an older sister-younger sister relationship, but it’s definitely familial,” according to a longtime Hillary friend, actress Mary Steenburgen.

“I’m not sure Hillary could walk out the door without Huma,” says Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald. “She’s a little like Radar on M*A*S*H. If the air-conditioning is too cold, Huma is there with the shawl. She’s always thinking three steps ahead of Hillary.”

Abedin is remarkably cheerful about holding shawls-”There’s no detail too small for me,” she says-but there’s a lot more to her job than that. “Huma does make the trains run on time,” says Bob Barnett, the Clintons’ longtime personal lawyer, “and she does it well, which is important when you are as in demand as the senator is. But she also has an incredible ability to remember people and get things done. I’m always looking to her for her judgment and encyclopedic knowledge of what’s been said, where, and by whom.”

Among all of Abedin’s qualities, however, the most important may be the most ineffable-she says “no” better than anyone. “A lot of people who are in jobs with major public figures tend to get sour and exclusive over time,” says Barnett. “Huma is the opposite. She is always inclusive. She makes people feel good even when she’s saying no.” And there’s a lot of no when your boss is one of the most famous women on the planet, running for president.
Are we to believe that all of the e-mails have to do with the latest in handbags? When it comes to familial relationships, saying one exists between Huma and Hillary should be a little disconcerting when one considers the actual familial relationships of Mrs. Abedin. If Huma is like Radar, she knows quite a bit more about what's going on than Hillary does.

Those last two paragraphs would seem to indicate that Huma had tremendous sway over where the trains stopped, when Hillary got off, and whom she saw. Has any of that changed since 2007? Considering Huma's position, it would seem like another reason to know.

Along those lines, the following excerpt appears near the end of the article:
After hearing from so many people that Huma Abedin is the master of the velvet no, I finally got to experience it firsthand. Following Hillary’s breakfast in the Hilton ballroom, her traveling press person introduced me to the senator so I could get a quote about her employee. Just as I was about to ask, Abedin swooped in. “No, no, no,” she said, waving her hands. “She has to go.”

Clinton smiled and shrugged. “I go where I’m told,” she said.
Based on what is now known about the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA), we can now say with nearly complete certainty that the part of this stanza that refers to IMMA without naming it is false:
You can see why the First Lady wanted Abedin. Fluent in Arabic and a practicing Muslim born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father, Abedin moved with her family to Saudi Arabia when she was two years old. There, her father, an Islamic scholar, founded an institute devoted to fostering religious understanding between the East and West. Her mother, a sociology professor, helped create one of the first private women’s colleges in the country. “I grew up in a very traditional family,” she says, “but there was never anything I didn’t think I could do.”
Of course, we now know that the institute is not devoted to fostering religious understanding between East and West; it is devoted to transforming lands and nations that currently consist of Muslim minorities into lands and nations that hold Muslim majorities.

Open your eyes, Mr. Milbank.

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