Anthony D. Weiner, former New York Democratic representative and current New York City mayoral candidate, has been a huge embarrassment to the American political process. His bizarre behavior in sending sexually explicit photos to young women has ruined his image and made him the target of many late-night TV monologues.
It would be nice if Mr. Weiner lived in the real world and realized his actions don’t make him fit to be New York’s next mayor. Alas, he wouldn’t recognize reality if it were staring at him squarely in the face.
Mr. Weiner appears to live in a fantasyland in which shattered politicians think they’re entitled to a second chance, no matter how heinous the crime, misdemeanor or antic. Hence, his personal campaign of self-destruction — which occurred both in and out of public office — deserves to be forgiven.
In my opinion, this is absolutely wrong.
While an individual’s personal life should be kept private, Mr. Weiner committed a cardinal sin when he sent off sexually suggestive pictures on his Twitter account in 2011. He turned his private life into a public spectacle. For a politician, this is nothing short of a public relations nightmare.
Some people initially tried to blame the now-deceased conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart’s decision to post these photos on his website as the real reason for this political downfall. Nice try: The ex-representative’s decision to send them out in the first place makes him the real culprit. He got caught with his pants down, and that’s his fault.
Incredibly, some New Yorkers seemed willing to give Mr. Weiner a pass when he declared himself a candidate for mayor. He temporarily replaced Democratic City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as the front-runner, and it briefly seemed like he might win the nomination. Even though Mr. Weiner is a Democrat and a liberal — a powerful combination in New York politics — the whole situation seemed surreal.
This unusual comeback story came to a crashing end, however.
On July 23, a website called The Dirty published explicit photos sent out by “Carlos Danger,” alias Mr. Weiner, to a young woman between late 2012 and April. At a hastily scheduled news conference, standing next to his wife, Huma Abedin, he said, “I don’t believe I had any more than three” explicit messages after stepping down as a member of the House of Representatives. (In office, Mr. Weiner said the number was “six to 10, I suppose — but I can’t tell you absolutely what someone else is going to consider appropriate or not.”)
At the news conference, Mr. Weiner reiterated an earlier claim, “I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have.” Yet in spite of this astonishing revelation, he refused to leave the mayoral race.
That’s ridiculous. This renewed episode of sexting should spell the end of his political comeback. It will also hopefully provide a lesson for voters, in New York and elsewhere, about the level of forgiveness a political candidate truly deserves.
Mr. Weiner is a classic example of how a politician’s private life can come back to haunt him. Politicians need to give serious thought to their personal decisions, ideas, relationships and friendships when running for office. Public officials are not invincible, and the instant commentary of social-media networks has dramatically changed the way they need to conduct themselves.
Ms. Abedin’s equally bizarre ties and connections should have also served as a wake-up call about her husband. National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy recently wrote, “Ms. Abedin worked for many years at a journal that promotes Islamic-supremacist ideology that was founded by a top al Qaeda financier, Abdullah Omar Naseef. Naseef ran the Rabita Trust, a formally designated foreign terrorist organization under American law. Ms. Abedin and Naseef overlapped at the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA) for at least seven years. Throughout that time (19962003), Ms. Abdein worked for Hillary Clinton in various capacities.”
Mr. McCarthy’s article also included this statement, “The marriage to Anthony Weiner, a prominent Jewish progressive, enables Huma Abedin to deflect attention from her associations with various Islamic supremacists even as, during her tenure as a top State Department official, American policy embraces Islamic supremacists. But let’s not discuss that.” Whether his analysis is right or wrong, it does leave some unanswered questions.
To make a long story short, there are many things about Mr. Weiner that should make New Yorkers wonder. When they vote for their next mayor, let’s hope they don’t have to think about rejecting this former boy wonder of progressive politics.