What a remarkable news day.
In London, Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, came out of a hospital with their newborn baby in tow, walked over to reporters to chat, tease each other and tell the world’s media that they were still working on a name.
Meanwhile, in New York, mayoral candidate and disgraced sexting congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, walked into a room and over to a bank of microphones, and each proceeded to talk about what a jerk Weiner had been but declared that they had decided to stay married anyway.
OK, the substance of the news itself may not have been globally significant. But what was unusual was how disarmingly personal these very public couples were. Of course, both appearances were orchestrated. In Abedin’s case, she was reading from notes — and was nervous, as she also admitted.
But in both cases, the couples offered more than the media probably expected. By now, it’s traditional for a British royal couple with an infant heir to pose on the steps of a hospital for pictures. William’s mother, Diana, the Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles did that some 31 years ago. Same hospital, same steps. What’s different here is that William and Kate took the baby over to the assembled media and showed him off as if the assembled reporters and photographers were guests at an impromptu baby shower.
“He’s got her lips,” said William, gazing down at the baby.
“No, no, no,” protested Kate, turning to her husband and laughing.
About the name? William promised to get back to the media shortly on that. Later, they reemerged from the hospital and we watched as William installed the baby seat in the car and drove off with his family.
It may be less unusual (and always uncomfortable) to watch a wife stand by the side of a once-disrespectful husband. But even though Hillary Rodham Clinton — for whom Abedin worked at the State Department — set the standard for standing-by-hubby moments when she famously uttered on “60 Minutes” that she was not just being Tammy Wynette standing by her man, there was something riveting about watching Abedin and Weiner deal with revelations that he had still been sexting after his resignation from Congress.
“Anthony has made some horrible mistakes, both before he resigned from Congress and after,” said Abedin. Weiner hung his head as if thinking, ‘Yup, that’s me.’ But after “a whole lot of therapy,” she has forgiven him, Abedin said.
Both couples are dealing with very different situations. But in both situations, I think, each couple feel like the media is ever-present in their lives — and in the case of the Waleses, the media have been outside the hospital nonstop before labor, during labor and after. And with cameras relentlessly in their faces, they chose to be more revealing, not less. It was a smart choice.