Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner has again made headlines for his extramarital sexual interactions on the Internet, but is declining to withdraw from the mayoral race in which he has emerged as a frontrunner. Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 after proof surfaced that he had used Twitter to exchange explicit messages with several women who were not his wife, and the additional online relationship exposed this week allegedly occurred in 2012, following his resignation.
The blogosphere reacted to Weiner's chances in the mayoral race after the release of these new details, and whether or not it New Yorkers will give him another chance to represent them:
The New York Times editorial board called Weiner “arrogant,” and said that he is responsible for dragging himself, his wife Huma Abedin and his online relationships back into the limelight:
When the first texts were revealed two years ago, Mr. Weiner lied about it, saying he had been the victim of hackers. Then he owned up, tearfully abandoned his office and retreated into private life. Then he was back, telling the world that therapy and his wife's forgiveness had turned him around and that he was ready to begin a new chapter. That turned out to be the mayor's race, which he entered in May. What he did not say then, and what voters did not realize until Tuesday, was that his resignation had not been the end of his sexual misconduct.
The timing here matters, as it would for any politician who violates the public's trust and then asks to have it back. Things are different now, he insists. “This behavior is behind me,” he said again on Tuesday. He suggested that people should have known that his sexting was an unresolved problem well into 2012.
At some point, the full story of Anthony Weiner and his sexual relationships and texting habits will finally be told. In the meantime, the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.
Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post writes that the Weiner scandal should remind New Yorkers that there are other options in the race:
[H]e assures us that nothing has changed about “my feelings” in running for office. Of that I have no doubt, even if I'm less sure that “a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy” can really have been accomplished so soon, and while race-walking back toward the life-giving spotlight. Addictions can't be tamed on any schedule, much less on such a tight one.
So New Yorkers, what about your feelings? Some, I know, don't think there's anything to forgive: A male friend who lives on the Upper East Side thinks Weiner is “hot” and that his critics should cool it. My She the People colleague Sheila Weller likes Huma so much that she'd be willing to stick with Ms. Abedin's husband “in a weak field.”
I don't know why we seem to think we have to choose between officials who let us down through personal bad behavior and those whose foibles are in the policy arena. And Weiner and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn aren't the only options. Is it too much to hope that the latest revelations cause voters to give the apparently, and perhaps blessedly, unexciting public advocate Bill de Blasio another look?
Mark Silva of Political Capital said that Weiner shouldn't be considered a pioneer in continuing a campaign after so many rocky revelations:
Weiner is testing something else: The limits of public acceptance of errant behavior and absent morality, the boundaries of just how far a man can go, and how many times, before he becomes unelectable.
The capacity of New York's voters for forgiveness is another question, and Weiner plans to test to the limits. He entered the race asking for forgiveness, and he rose to the front of the pack in opinion polling. Yet his mid-20′s standing in those polls in a crowded contest for the Democratic nomination is reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's victories in the early presidential caucuses and primaries of 1976, when he prevailed over a crowded field with little more than 20 percent support — without any scandal hanging over him.