The kind of people a leader chooses to surround themselves with says a lot about him or her. Does she pick yes-men who will stroke an ego? Does she pick attack dogs who throw elbows while she rises above the fray? Does she pick policy wonks who are whip-smart but bad at dealing with people?
In short, there are plenty of unwise choices to make. But the fact that Hillary Clinton, for more than two decades, has chosen Huma Abedin is a testament to her wisdom.
Like Clinton herself, Abedin has got the chops for the job. Projects she's taken on include Secretary Clinton's run for Senate in New York in 2000, the first iterations of what would become the Iran Deal, and Secretary Clinton's current bid for President. Currently, Ms. Abedin is the Vice Chair of Hillary Clinton's campaign for President, acting in many ways as the Chief of Staff for the aspiring Commander in Chief. Huma's resume shows she's a superb generalist―able to balance competing priorities at once and handle some of the most complex topics in foreign policy.
Some digging reveals that Abedin's parents represent a true American love story. They met while both attending University of Pennsylvania on Fulbright Scholarships. Her father was Indian and her mother Pakistani. Going back home post-marriage wasn't an option for them in 1964, as tensions between their respective communities were high. They wrote the State Department and requested refuge, which they were granted―paving the way for their daughter to be born in the stable, secure United States rather than in the aftermath of wars in their homelands.
Abedin eventually attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and, in 1996, received an internship at the White House working for then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. She is a Muslim American who speaks 3 languages and is incredibly well-traveled. When she walks into a room, it's full. Her presence precedes her even as she's happy hanging in the back ensuring that her boss is taken care of and everything happens as it should.
She's calm, not showy; she gets things done behind the scenes. If she's got her own agenda, it's not obvious; in public, her views are her boss's (an invaluable trait for any staffer to have). She shows the loyalty and discretion that Clinton famously values. I don't think anyone would describe Abedin as a "yes-woman" or an "attack dog". In fact, finding someone or something to compare her to is quite difficult as she brings her own unique poise and brilliance to her craft. Although they clearly share values, Abedin's background is very different from Clinton's―she clearly brings a very unique perspective to the fold.
I've only interacted with Abedin one time: in San Diego, when Hillary Clinton delivered her national security speech on June 2, 2016. This was a landmark speech, but it was her that made the biggest impression on me that day. I had requested a letter from the Clinton team for the family of a fallen member of the military, and Abedin hand-delivered it to me to give to the family. She exuded calm, confidence, and intelligence, and it was clear that she understood the importance of the sacrifice of our fallen servicemember and the significance of Secretary Clinton's letter.
Every American should be proud that Abedin has worked in and around our federal government for two decades as of this year. We are incredibly lucky to have someone with so much experience dedicate their entire adult life to serving our nation and the values that we all hold dear. Her response to the ugly anti-Muslim rhetoric of this election cycle, "There is nothing more American than hope," demonstrates her faith in our country and commitment to its values―as well as the fact that she is the living embodiment of its promise.
She's supremely competent and handles anything that comes at her with poise and aplomb.
No one can deny this election cycle has been a bit of a nightmare. But for my part, as long as patriotic, competent, and frankly badass public servants like Huma Abedin are giving their all to America, I think we're going to come out on top.