Anthony Weiner scandal is not over until voters say it’s over
Anthony Weiner, June 6, 2011: “The first thing I need to do is make sure that, obviously, this never, ever happens again, and that I make it up to my wife and to my family and to all the people that I’ve harmed here.”
Anthony Weiner, July 23, 2012, paraphrasing here: “Whoops, I did it again.”
I don’t even live in New York City and I’m getting Weiner fatigue.
One can only imagine the strain on Huma Abedin, 36, his wife of three years and the mother of his toddler.
In 2011, a year into their marriage, his first sexting scandal forced him to resign his congressional seat, and now his second sexting scandal is imperiling his bid to become mayor of New York City. It’s fantastic for Weiner, 48, that Abedin is standing by him through yet another of his self-inflicted tribulations.
But it must have been pretty chilly around their dinner table last fall, when, in the midst of a carefully orchestrated comeback (a fuzzy spread in People, followed by a confessional New York Times magazine interview), she discovered he was at it again, texting photos of his junk, emailing under the silly pseudonym “Carlos Danger” and having phone sex with a 22-year-old stranger.
If Abedin has weighed the pros and cons and decided to stick it out with a man whose sexual compulsions and lies have already forced him from office once, more power to her. That’s their business. “I love him,” she said at their Tuesday joint news conference. “I have forgiven him. I believe in him and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”
Reading from a prepared statement in a tone that sounded like even Weiner has Weiner fatigue, the candidate added: “I am glad these things are behind us.” In response to a reporter’s question, he said, “This is entirely behind me.”
If the two of them think they can put the scandal behind them by simply declaring that the scandal is behind them, they have more than a sex scandal problem. They have a magical thinking problem.
New York City voters are not being asked to decide whether the Abedin-Weiners should stay married. They are electing the mayor of the largest city in the United States. They get to decide when the scandal is over.
“He is expecting that because he’s confessed his offense and expressed remorse, that now the public should be able to fully recover from that,” said David Wexler, a clinical psychologist and author of “When Good Men Behave Badly.” “But the public may not be operating on that timetable. It’s inconvenient for him, but that’s the way it is.”
The arithmetic-impaired Weiner keeps using the phrase “second chance.” His wife has given him a “second chance.” He hopes the voters will give him a “second chance.”
Sorry, but if you’ve already had one scandal, and now you are having another scandal, by my count, you are asking for a third chance. As the great orator George W. Bush once said: “Fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me … You can’t get fooled again.”
Queens waitress Denise Guardascione put it much more succinctly when she told the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday: “You cheat me once, I can forgive it, but I won’t forget it. But the idea that you did it a second time? The second time? You’re history, honey. You’re with the fishes, someplace else. You’re gone.”
She has plenty of company.
A new poll has found that support for Weiner among registered Democrats has dropped precipitiously. He’s now running a distant second to former City Council President Christine Quinn, with whom he had been neck and neck, according to the NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. She has 25% support to his 16%.
The poll also found that, with a little more than six weeks to go until the Sept. 10 mayoral primary, a majority of Democrats, 55%, also have a negative view of Weiner. A month ago, the poll found that only 36% had an unfavorable view of him.
So, two people have put the scandal behind them.
The problem for Weiner and Abedin is that pretty much everybody else has not.
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