There are more important things going on in the world, especially if you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere other than New York City, but there’s simply no resisting the temptation to write about a sex scandal involving someone named Anthony Weiner. All the good double entendres have been used by this point, but Weiner is such an absurd fellow that that we feel obliged to add a few more snickers to the ridicule that is once again being heaped on him.
As even the most determinedly apolitical people already know, Weiner is the former New York congressman who was forced to resign from office after it was revealed that he had been sending lewd photographs of underwear-clad nether regions to various young women. Modern American society being what it is Weiner was widely forgiven and quickly forgotten after offering a profuse public apology and a promise to refrain from such behavior in the future, and modern New York City society being what it is Weiner decided to run for mayor. So forgiving and forgetful is the city that Weiner was actually leading in all the polls on Tuesday, but the Big Apple’s patience might finally be running after revelations of even more lewd photos and salacious messages sent long after Weiner’s public apologies and promises.
Weiner was joined at a hastily arranged press conference by his semi-famous-in-her-own-right wife, a former aide to Hillary Clinton whose patience for male misbehavior is apparently as boundless as her past employer’s, but his renewed apologies and promises ran into predictable difficulties. The brilliant Mark Steyn dropped in on the conference, and quotes Weiner saying “This was something in front of us that we knew might come up” and “I’m not going to get into a back and forth,” both of which surely had the assembled press corps chuckling even more than they do at the mention of Weiner’s name. A New York politician can apparently be seen as a pervert without suffering any political harm, but even in the big city it is hard to overcome being seen as ridiculous.
There aren’t many old-fashioned prudes left in New York City, but there are plenty of newfangled ones who object to Weiner’s behavior on feminist and other fashionable grounds. The New York Times quotes the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, which seems to still exist there, as declaring that Weiner is “clearly and compellingly unfit for office.” Even by the degraded standards of our national politics taking pictures of one’s private parts and sharing them with strangers is odd behavior, and even the most dedicated Democrats who are inclined to overlook it will be reluctant to give up the right to look down on the next Republican caught up in some more understandable sex scandal. Moral and political considerations aside, there’s also something unsettlingly narcissistic about Weiner’s hobby that suggests he’d be a troublesome mayor.
The current mayor has established a precedent that the office carries the power to dictate all sorts of the citizenry’s behavior, from how much salt a diner can put on his French fries to the size of his soda pop, so surely the citizenry can expect better behavior of a mayor. There are many reasons that Weiner shouldn’t hold a position of public responsibility, most having to do with his bossy brand of liberalism, but his strange hobby should be enough to convince even a New Yorker.
— Bud Norman