Weiner’s wife and the voting public should delete the sexting cybercreep
Compared with Bill Clinton, there is nothing in the New York mayoral hopeful’s public life that is redeeming
People in Huma Abedin’s circle are worried that her decision to vouch for her husband, Anthony Weiner, “is starting to hurt her, the one person they all assumed would never be ensnared in anything weird or bad”. Photograph: Michael Appleton/The New York Times
When you puzzle over why the elegant Huma Abedin is propping up the eel-like Anthony Weiner, you must remember one thing: Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet.
Comparatively speaking, the politician from Queens probably seems like a prince. Even though he’s a punk. After he got caught sexting and flashing women online in 2011, he promised to “never, ever” do that to his family again and slouched away from Congress. He cyber-creeped other young women in a pervy bout of tweet du seigneur as his wife travelled the world with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state.
Yet, while married to the classy, gorgeous mother of his infant son and planning a redemptive run for mayor, he told a Facebook friend and phone-sex partner he had never met that he loved her. Then he told her to “hard-delete” all their correspondence – if that is what you call it.
Aside from his Zorro-like nom de porn, Carlos Danger, Weiner has been called many things. His digital girlfriend and fellow extreme exhibitionist, Sydney Leathers (whose name sounds like a nom de porn), said Weiner described himself to her accurately as “an argumentative, perpetually horny middle-aged man”.
But Weiner’s Goya-esque grotesquerie earns him another name: the “Rosemary’s Baby” of the Clintons.
Bill and Hillary Clinton transformed the way we look at sex scandals. They plowed through the ridicule, refused to slink away in shame like Gary Hart, said it was old news, and argued that if Hillary didn’t object, why should voters?
Poppy Bush thought Americans would reject Bill Clinton in 1992 because of his lascivious ways, but he learned that voters are more concerned with how their own lives will be changed than they are with politicians’ duplicitous private lives.
Americans keep moving the marker of acceptable behavior, partly as a reflection of the coarsening of society and partly as a public acknowledgment that many politicians with complicated personal lives have been good public servants.
Now, defining deviancy downward, Señor and Señora Danger are using the Clinton playbook. The difference is, there’s nothing in Weiner’s public life that is redeeming. In 12 years in Congress, he got only one minor Bill passed, on behalf of a donor, and he doesn’t work well with people. He knows how to be loud on cable and wave his Zorro sword in our faces.
Some sex scandals, like Mark Sanford’s, fall into the realm of flawed human nature, and some, like Weiner’s, fall into the realm of “Seriously, what is wrong with you?”