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Lords of the Transition Team

Our leadership class’s real accomplishment is résumé padding.

By  Mark Steyn

Let us put aside, as he so rarely does, Anthony Weiner’s spambot penis, and consider his wife and putative first lady. By universal consent, Huma Abedin is “smart, accomplished” (the Guardian), “whip-smart” (The Week), “accomplished” (Time), “smart and accomplished” (the Daily News) — oh, and did I mention “accomplished” (Forbes)?

So, if she’s so smart, what has she accomplished? Let us put aside her Muslim Brotherhood family background — let us put it aside in the same corner as Anthony Weiner’s infidel penis, the Muslim Brotherhood being one of the few things on the planet rising even more spectacularly than Anthony. Instead, consider merely the official résumé. Huma Abedin’s present employment is as “head of Hillary Clinton’s transition team.” Mrs Clinton, you may recall, was once secretary of state. This was way back in January. Since then, she has been “transitioning away from government to become more involved in her family’s charitable foundation.” You can’t make a “transition” without a “transition team.” Well, not in America. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands recently abdicated and managed to transition away from being queen back to the non-queen sector without benefit of a “transition team.” But it would be entirely unreasonable to expect U.S. cabinet officials to attempt the same tricky maneuver.

In 2001, Bill Clinton was struggling with his own “transition back to private life.” He was reported by his ever reliable New York Timesstenographer Adam Nagourney to be having difficulty “trying to place his own telephone calls.” The telephone is a technology many older people can have problems with, particularly if they had a full-time staff to place their calls throughout the Nineties. The 1890s, that is. So, alone in retirement at Chautauqua, a bewildered Bill would pick up the speaking tube and bark, “Hello, Central, get me Gennifer Flowers.” Fortunately, he was able to make a full recovery, and has since earned (according to CNN) $89 million in “speaking fees.” But few others could manage their “transition” quite that adroitly. So for the last six months the smart, accomplished Huma Abedin has been the executive supremo of Mrs. Clinton’s “transition team.”

Is this a grueling, time-consuming burden? Is this why Anthony Weiner’s shorts find themselves alone in the small hours burning the midnight oil? No. Politico’s Maggie Haberman recently broke the exclusive news that Ms. Abedin is taking “extended vacation time from her job.” This is not because the Clintons are naturally revolted at having their good name sullied by association with a sick pervert and his creepy enabling wife, but because, as you eventually discover if you plough deep into Miss Haberman’s story, “Hillary Clinton has close to no schedule next month.” She is now transitioning from her transition to her summer in the Hamptons, and presumably that requires an entirely different kind of transition team, to bring the beach towels and mix the margaritas.

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