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.
Joe Concha of Mediaite said that rather than turning voters away from Weiner, the new revelation actually endears him more to them:
So is this the end for Weiner's political ambitions? The media certainly doesn't hope so. Between Eliot Spitzer—the guy who paid obscene amounts of money for the professional services of a former Parker House regular named Ashley Dupre—running to become Comptroller of New York, and Weiner looking to be in charge of arguably the greatest city in the world, it certainly beats having to report on about pesky items such as budgets, taxes and security with those boring no-name candidates doing all the talking.
But can Weiner still win? You're kidding, right? The way it works these days, his poll numbers will jump 5-7 points as a result of this latest revelation. The thought process from Weiner supporters is the following: If his wife–who must really, really want to be First Lady of New York–can continually forgive him, why shouldn't they?
At last check, both Spitzer and Weiner were leading their respective races and showed no signs of relinquishing those leads. But now that today's news is out…Weiner might as well start measuring the drapes at Gracie Mansion right now.
Richard Kim of The Nation writes that Weiner's policy positions are far more offensive than anything he did in his private life:
Nothing Carlos Danger did was illegal or coercive, and, it should be pointed out, none of it actually involved physical contact. His behavior and his marriage are entirely unworthy of public concern.
Unless, of course, Carlos Danger has the bad luck to also be Anthony Weiner, politician and candidate, in which case his lies about sex are a sign of a more intrinsic untrustworthiness, his indiscretions a sign of fundamental bad judgment and his repeated transgressions the source of an irretrievably broken public trust. On one level, this is all true. And of course, Weiner himself courted this public condemnation—not by the original sin of sexting but by having the balls to trot out his bogus rehabilitation as something that qualifies him to be mayor of New York.
Yes, Anthony Weiner is a weasel, a liar, a moron and a ridiculous egomaniac. Yes, he is unfit to hold public office. It doesn't take a picture of his junk to prove that.
Ed Morrissey of Hot Air said that regardless of Weiner's sexual indiscretions on the internet, the press conference he subjected his wife to ought to convince New Yorkers he isn't right for the job:
One would certainly hope that the latest chapter in Where On The Internet Is Anthony Weiner disqualifies him from public office, at least for a while. If that doesn't do it, then the humiliation that Weiner inflicted on his wife yesterday should do it.
Now that he's pushed his wife into the political spotlight in his defense, Weiner had better prepare her for what follows. For instance, while most of the commentary has been sympathetic to Huma, at least some are wondering just how she rationalized a return to electoral politics with this sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.
The question is whether New Yorkers really want to deal with this continuing public train wreck or find someone who is responsible enough to run his own life, let alone the nation's largest city. After yesterday's train wreck, the Weiners should be taking the NYT's advice and get out of public life, but it seems they won't get that message until voters deliver it to them.
Hanna Rosin of Slate wrote that while Weiner used yesterday's press conference to make a campaign pitch to New Yorkers, Abedin had remarkable composure for a woman forced to comment on private matters in such a public way:
A political wife with a cheating husband generally has two choices. She can stand on the stage alongside him and suffer forever the derision and condescension of feminists (“poor” Silda Spitzer). Or she can decline to take the stage and write a vengeful memoir (Jenny Sanford) and be a heroine forevermore. Neither of these options is ideal because they seem more like responses to public expectations than anything that a real live wife living through a grueling marital moment might actually choose to do.
In her joint press conference with Anthony Weiner on Tuesday, Huma Abedin pioneered a third option that seemed, especially in comparison to her curiously detached husband, sincere. She just explained herself and did it without shame, apology, or all that much regret. She is probably the first cheater's wife who managed the impossible feat of choosing to stay without taking on the stench of victim.
Andrew Sullivan of The Dish said that online interactions of a sexual nature are becoming the norm in society, and the public has no right to judge the marriage of another couple:
But ultimately it is up to the spouse to decide if there has been a transgression or not, and whether to forgive and move forward or not. The truly awful spectacle yesterday was seeing Huma Abedin being forced to undergo another public humiliation as the price for her husband's public career. But she clearly stated she was not abandoning her husband. And for me, as for us, that should close the matter.
I see no reason why that trust should not be tested where it should be: at the ballot box. Weiner should not, er, withdraw prematurely. He should do us all a favor, if his wife agrees, and plow on until we can all smoke a collective cigarette. In this new Internet Age someone has to be the person who makes sexting not an excludable characteristic for public office. If it becomes one, then the range of representatives we can choose from in the future and present will be very, very different in experience and background than the people they are supposed to represent.
- Read Leslie Marshall: Anthony Weiner, Bob Filner and Sexual Misconduct From Coast to Coast
- Read Lara Brown: Anthony Weiner, Bob Filner and Eliot Spitzer Are Too Stupid for Politics
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