Just when Bubba and the missus get an opportunity to dispense experience unique in American politics, and could tutor two old friends who need help, they retire to the companionable solitude of the family hearth to reflect on the Scriptures and to bask in the piety of each other.
For a New York minute it seemed like a return of yesteryear, with old times there not forgotten. Bubba was back, and Hillary had him. Then, pffftt! The minute was gone, and so were Bubba on the stump and the missus dreamy-eyed at his side.
Anthony Weiner, the Gotham flasher who quit Congress when his night job, starring in his own show on his own private porn channel (“the stars come out at night in the Twitterhood”), closed out of town. Now he’s running for mayor of New York City to test F. Scott Fitzgerald’s observation that there are no second acts in American lives. Fitzgerald thought you get an opening and a closing, with nothing between. The flasher had his opening and closing, and his second act is lost in the clutter of memories and might-have-beens.
Bubba and the missus got their second acts, each one verging on a boffo performance. They could teach Mr. Weiner a thing or two when he needs help most. Who better than Bubba to tell him how to profit from disgrace. Who better than Hillary to tutor Huma Abedin, the Weiner missus, on how to wring out of the shadow of disgrace the last ounce of sympathy, pity and compassion that is the wronged wife’s due. If Bubba could do it, why not the weenie?
The Weiners and the Clintons have more in common than marital malarkey. Like Anthony Weiner, the Clintons were once left for dead on the side of the road in New Hampshire, and with sheer determination and a sufficiency of gall Bubba recast himself as “the comeback kid.”
Mr. Weiner starts with advantages Bubba didn’t have; the Clintons borrowed a million dollars from a Republican friend in Little Rock to keep the campaign afloat in the storm. Mr. Weiner has nearly $5 million already banked and perhaps another million is available in public matching money, together with the IOUs collected over 14 years in Congress. He’s the big mule in a crowded feed lot, dominated by the speaker of the City Council (aldermen with a speaker?), but it’s a field consisting mostly of “others.” A new poll, taken by Quinnipiac University, puts the speaker, Christine Quinn, at 25 percent and Mr. Weiner at 15 percent, a gap not as large as it seems. If somebody doesn’t get 40 percent there will be a second round. A run-off is a new election.
Mr. Weiner understands, as Bubba did in his day, that “this is going to be a difficult slog, and I’m going to have to have a lot of difficult conversations with people along the way.”
He’ll have to endure a lot of cheap jokes, too, just like Bubba. Double-entendres will lie in wait every time he speaks. “I hope at least some of my ideas penetrate,” he told commuters at a subway stop Thursday, “and it changes some of the conversations.” He, like the Clintons, must expect the unexpected. Big-haired women seemed to pop out from the potted plants with an entertaining tale to tell everywhere Bubba went, and Mr. Weiner conceded (wisely, no doubt) Thursday that more lewd photographs may lurk in the Twitterhood. “It is what it is,” he said, leaving “it” as vague as Bubba left “is.”
“People may decide they want to come forward and say, ‘here’s another email that I got,’ or another photo. I’m certainly not going to do that. So people may hear things that are true, they may hear things that are not true, but I’m going to keep being focused on issues that are important to New York City.” And so forth and so on. This was right out of Bubba’s playbook.
Mr. Weiner is not getting much help from any of the usual liberal suspects, who mostly want to lie low and keep quiet. Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls the prospect of Mr. Weiner winning a “shame on us.” The crowded field includes a prominent black, and the speaker of the City Council is, she wants everybody to know, a lesbian. These are constituencies a New York pol dare not let anyone else bow deeper to. But the boy needs help, and Bubba, who performed the marriage rites when a suitable rabbi, priest or imam couldn’t be found, always thinks only of others. He’s famous for that. But not this time.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.