Oh my. Disgraced former Representative Anthony “I did not send pictures of my crotch to those women” Weiner has wormed his way into the headlines again this week with talk of a comeback, a return to the public spotlight or a “political rebranding”, if you will. In case you forgot or didn’t pay attention in the first place (lucky you), we have Weiner to thank for some of the best/worst puns in recent memory:
The big reveal is a TL;DR profile in this coming weekend’s New York Times magazine in which Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin review the painful details of the fallout and his plans for a new beginning in which he will rise from the ashes like a triumphant phoenix in boxer-briefs. It seems that Weiner entertains fantasies of running for mayor of New York City next year along with everyone else who lives in the greater metropolitan area.
Weiner has, or had, everything a successful politician needs: intelligence, an aggressive attitude, and an origin story far more interesting than most (much of the profile concerns his courtship of and relationship with Abdein, and it’s almost touching).
At least he understands one thing: his 2011 damage control strategy was abysmal, and if he wants the public to trust him again he needs to take the “brutal honesty” approach. Internal polling revealed that New York voters might be ready to forgive and forget, but the Times profile tells us that Mr. Weiner did not read our post relaying “7 tips for your next big apology tour.” Despite being very open in the interview, he can still spin with the best of the flacks, minimizing his misbehavior by saying that a “single fateful tweet” led to his downfall. Really now…
On the one hand, Weiner is a typically self-serving politician who seems to think that the public will not only forgive him but also reward him for coming back to them. On the other hand, Bill Clinton did far worse and lied about it repeatedly – yet very few people still talk about his scandal or use it to diminish his presidency. Is this a double standard? Of course it is. But Weiner should remember that, whatever might constitute “fair” and “unfair” in this sphere, he is not Bill Clinton.
In fact, New York Magazine’s Dan Amira thinks the article makes a much better case for Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin as a mayoral candidate – and we think he might be onto somthing. She’s certainly been a more effective and respectable political player as Hillary Clinton’s “right hand man”, and she went on a weeklong trip to Africa with the former Secretary of State just two days after her husband’s scandal blew up (while pregnant with their first child, no less).
We can see Anthony Weiner taking the Eliot Spitzer route by writing some op-eds, appearing on Meet the Press and serving as some sort of talk show host. We wish him the best, but it’s going to be a long time before he can recover anything approaching credibility — and he has no one but himself to blame. The “deny, deny, deny” response is human nature, but it will only make you look worse in the end.
What’s the key lesson in this story? Bill Clinton had better thank his lucky stars that Twitter, screenshots and “the blogosphere” weren’t around when he was president.