When I first read of New York Democrat Anthony Weiner’s penchant for extramarital sexts, and when I heard President Obama suggest he resign, I thought for sure the man was doomed. For reasons beyond my comprehension, you can get away with a lot of things in political office (such as betraying the Constitution by droning Americans or spying on them) though if you cozy up to some buxom intern, you might as well see yourself to the door—all the better if it hits you on the way out. But in the spirit of Lazarus, Weiner not only returned, but did so triumphantly.
Now, however, it appears that what Weiner warned us about last year has come true: more evidence of his lewd conduct has surfaced. Worse, an interview with an anonymous mistress appears to confirm he continued his behaviors after a public confession. Still worse, the name he chose for his amorous online encounters, “Carlos Danger,” sounds like a Clint Eastwood knock-off. Weiner initially denied that the genitalia shown in the first wave of scandals were his before he took ownership, and the only question is whether he will drag this scandal out or come clean up front.
Weiner will probably weigh the options. If he can successfully impugn the source, this whole ordeal will probably not advance beyond the stage of denial. He’ll have to fend off all the media piranhas whose attacks will not ultimately prove fatal unless the mistress sheds her anonymity. In that case, Weiner will probably have to give it up.
But should he?
I diverge with a number of social conservatives because I hold industry above character. If I hire you to hammer nails, I really could care less if you’re a drink sodden womanizer. It isn’t really relevant to the job. You’re not the kind of company I’d have over for dinner, nor would I entrust you with, say, my daughter’s education. But consider the Petraeus affair. Everyone in the media was flatly flummoxed that a great general slept with his biographer, as if no one remembered the many wives of Attila. The issue that should have garnered greater attention was whether or not Paula Broadwell’s proximity to Petraeus enabled her to access sensitive information. Otherwise, he was just one of the many men who cheated on their wives.
That’s not to say I find his conduct acceptable; I simply do not believe that infidelity to one’s wife assures treachery to one’s country, nor, further, does it mean one’s accomplishments are somehow less worthwhile because they were the work of a rake. (To cite a literary example, note that Anna Karenina does not suddenly become terrible after we find out that Tolstoy fathered some children by his peasants.)
In fact, before the newest allegations, Weiner’s fall worked to his advantage in as much as it reflected a candidate—a human—who had righted his own wrongs. His expiation demonstrated the strength of a family immune to public mockery. And you simply can’t say he lacks perseverance. Yet a democrat he remains, and were I a New Yorker, that’s why I wouldn’t vote for him.
Edit: As of this posting, Weiner has come clean and will continue with his campaign. You really have to feel for the man’s wife. Anyway, it remains to be seen whether or not New Yorkers will accept his plea for a third chance.