Weiner’s ‘personal mistakes’ too public
Scripps Howard News Service
Anthony Weinerís once-promising political career ó he was the likely next mayor of New York ó crashed to earth where it was launched 20 years ago, in a senior center, part of a Brooklyn-Queens district that likely would have re-elected him in spite of his creepy penchant for social-media sexting.
In Washingtonís long and colorful history of lawmakersí misbehavior, customarily involving money, steamy sex and alcohol, Weiner pioneered a new form of indiscretion: a sober, sex-free sex scandal with no cash involved, one that so far as is known broke no criminal or civil laws. He had never even met most of the women to whom he foolishly entrusted lewd images of himself.
Still, his recklessness and, for a tech-savvy guy, his curious ignorance of the truism that there is no real privacy on social media forced him to resign his seat in Congress, which he did, taking no questions, in a terse four-minute statement saying that his ěpersonal mistakesî were a distraction from the work the voters had sent him to Washington to do.
Weinerís appearance, for whatever reasons, was mercifully free of that needless custom of the wronged wife standing dutifully and stoically by her penitent husband as he apologizes for his sordid deeds. There are always innocent victims of these scandals, and one of them is his wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and pregnant with their first child.
His remarks were punctuated by insults from a bellowing lout in the rear of the hall. It was a harbinger of what he will face when he eventually, as he almost surely will, ventures back into the public arena.
The question arises: Could he have held on to his seat and ridden out the scandal? The answer is yes, but only with the greatest difficulty. In the first place, there was the juvenile nature of the offense, showing a reckless lack of judgment; second, he lied about it publicly, insisting that someone had hacked his Twitter account; then came the admission that it was indeed he inside the bulging underpants; and, finally, seemingly daily revelations of new female recipients of his lewd tweets.
Aggressive, abrasive and openly ambitious, Weiner had few defenders. His scandal had palpably slowed the Democratsí positive political momentum. He could have withstood demands for his resignation from top Democrats, up to and including President Barack Obama, but if Weiner had stayed, he would have been ostracized by fellow Democrats, excluded from their councils and probably stripped of his committee assignments.
By resigning, Weiner made it possible to return to elected politics after a decent, chastening interval. It is not an unreasonable bet that even now he is plotting his comeback.