Probably by now you have heard mention of Mrs. Bill Clintons now famously mysterious personal assistant, Huma Abedin:
Whatever else the toothsome Ms. Abedin is to Hillary she is certainly her favorite traveling companion, both on the taxpayers dime and off.
From the very handy site, Legistorm, we find this about their privately funded trips together:
Click on images to enlarge them.
Note that Ms. Abedin traveled with Hillary more than any other staffer. (38 out of her 40 trips. $65,622 out of her $78,309 total.)
Mind you, those 38 privately funded trips are just what Legistorm happens to have on record. They dont even touch on the junkets Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin have taken together at the taxpayers expense.
A few of these trips are mentioned in passing in Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, by the New York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and Don van Natta, Jr., pp 258-9:
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT members of Hillarys staff is Huma Abedin, a young woman who lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, until she was two and then moved to Saudi Arabia, where she was raised by her Pakistani mother and Indian father.
Abedin is what is known in Senate parlance as a body person, someone who helps manage a senators hectic schedule and is usually at her side when she travels. Huma keeps everything going shes indispensable, a former aide said. A Senate colleague of Abedins described her as always reserved a bit, a typical Hillary person, very quiet.
Now in her early thirties, Abedin joined Hillaryland during Bill Clintons presidency and worked her way up to the post of Hillarys personal assistant inside the White House. In a caption beneath a photo of Abedin in Hillarys autobiography, she describes Abedin as extraordinary.
Abedins knowledge of the Middle East and her language skills she is Muslim and speaks fluent Arabic even prompted President Clinton to add her to his diplomatic team during the failed peace talks at Camp David in 2000. She was especially effective at making the Israeli and Palestinian delegates feel at home and at ease, Bill recalled.
Hillarys trips to the Middle East as a senator always included Abedin (and a Secret Service detail as well). McCain, who went to Iraq with Hillary in 2005, found Abedin to be very, very intelligent and knowledgeable about Middle Eastern affairs and someone with a very outgoing and pleasant personality. To Hillary, she is more than that: She is invaluable.
Even when Bill and Hillary escape for a relaxing Caribbean vacation, Abedin is part of their entourage. When Hillary marched up New York Citys Fifth Avenue in the 2006 Columbus Day parade, Abedin was there to hold her flowing, flower-patterned coat. At Hillarys first public event after announcing her run for president in January 2007, held at a health clinic in midtown Manhattan, Abedin was by her side. At Hillarys first stop on her presidential campaign, at an auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa, Abedin was again with her, taking pictures for fans and passing along books for autographs.
And since she entered the Senate in January 2001, Hillary and her aides foreign travels have included three trips to Iraq and trips to Kuwait, Pakistan, Israel, India, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Singapore, and Estonia.
Hillary took one overseas trip in 2005, however, that raised some eyebrows among the handful of people inside the Senate who knew about it. The trip, approved by the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was to Singapore, where the International Olympics Committee was preparing to choose the host city for the 2012 Olympics. New York City was one of five finalists but wound up losing to London.
Hillary initially taped a video on behalf of the Big Apples pitch, having planned to skip the meeting. Then, at the last minute, her plans changed; she decided to join city officials and lobby in person. Her aides quickly tried to figure out how to use public funds to pay her way, but they learned that only a Senate committee could authorize the use of public money for foreign travel.
There was another problem. Senate rules stipulated that the primary purpose of a trip must of course be official in nature to justify the use of official funds. Even Hillarys spokeswoman acknowledged that she was doing it for New York, not the federal government or Congress. Making it even harder was the fact that the Democrats controlled no committees at the time because they were the minority party in Congress.
Senate committee chairpersons, though, have considerable latitude in determining what is official, and Hillary had a friend in Republican senator John Warner, the patrician Virginian who was then the chairman of the Armed Services panel. Proving that the value of personal relationships cannot be underestimated in the Senate, Warner approved the trip as official business. Hillary took along Abedin, and was also accompanied by the usual Secret Service detail. The Armed Services Committee report on the trip, required by law and signed by Warner, was filed with the Senate after the normal reporting period and went unnoticed by the public.
Hillary and Abedins two-day stay in Singapore cost taxpayers more than $14,000, most of it airfare.
We will leave it to others to speculate as to why Ms. Abedin is such an invaluable companion. (Though it should be noted that she started with Mrs. Clinton more than eleven years ago as a mere intern.)
But it is perhaps amusing to note what significance the name Huma has in mythology, via Wikipedia:
The Huma, also known as the bird of paradise, is a Persian mythological bird, similar to the Egyptian phoenix, which consumes itself in fire every few hundred years, only to rise anew from the ashes. It is considered to be a compassionate bird. The touch of the huma bird is said to bring great fortune.
The huma joins both the male and female natures together in one body, each sharing a wing and a leg. It avoids killing for food, rather preferring to feed on carrion. The Persians teach that great blessings come to that person on whom the humas shadow falls.
According to Sufi master Inayat Khan, The word huma in the Persian language stands for a fabulous bird. There is a belief that if the huma bird sits for a moment on someones head it is a sign that he will become a king. Its true meaning is that when a persons thoughts so evolve that they break all limitation, then he becomes as a king. It is the limitation of language that it can only describe the Most High as something like a king.
Perhaps Mrs. Clinton is just superstitious.