The New York Times Magazine article on the return of former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin has been denounced as a puff piece designed to lay the foundation for Weiner to run for New York mayor or other office. As I have mentioned before, I am astonished by so many Democrats expressing interest and support for Weiner’s return. Weiner has already reportedly spent considerable money on polling and clearly has received assurances of financial support. While many of the same people called for the removal of Republicans like Senator Larry Craig and others, it seems that sending creepy sexual pictures to unconsenting women, lying to the public repeatedly, and attacking the media is not enough to disqualify you for high public office. The article does read like a puff piece about one of New York’s power couple. However, it contains some truly bizarre insights into Weiner and his family.
First, there is the much quoted endorsement of Weiner’s brother Jason on his return to public life: ““I wouldn’t stand for other people saying this about him, but there was definitely a douchiness about him that I just don’t really see anymore.” Now there is a campaign slogan in the making.
Second, there is Weiner’s response to questions of whether he remains the person who was widely disliked as rude and insufferable even by Democratic members: “I don’t remember some of the skill to, like, be that guy.” Hmmm. Even his wife notes that before they married, she would look at Weiner and say “My God, he’s such a jerk.”
Third, there is Weiner’s first explanation for why is stalked women with pictures of his penis: “Not a lot of gratuitous hugging in our family. My father’s expression of love was entirely through solving problems for us . . . This fix of having an emotional back and forth on the Internet at 2 a.m. seemed, to me, like getting something that I didn’t really have a lot of, and it was easy and it never really got in. It bounced off.” Let me get this straight, Daddy didn’t hug you enough so you found that warmth in sending photos of your member to various unconsenting women? Of course, you were married at the time, right? Wouldn’t an actual hug have served a better purpose? If not, the Japanese have a new product that might be a key to Weiner’s rehabilitation.
Fourth, there is the second excuse: technology.
It was just something that technology made possible and it became possible for me to do stupid things. I mean, the thing I did, and the damage that I did, not only hadn’t it been done before, but it wasn’t possible to do it before.”
That is certainly true. In the past, we called men flashers and they had to do this one victim at a time. By the way, most of us have this technology but do not send pictures of our genitals to strangers. Indeed, most of us do not have pictures of our genitals to send.
Finally, there is the revelation about how Weiner was counseled by Jon Stewart who later apologized for going easy on his friend. Weiner reveals that Stewart told him that “as part of the process” he viewed the stories on Weiner to be mere caricatures. He quotes Stewart as saying that “As low as you are, please understand that what’s happening to you right now isn’t really happening to you, it’s happening to whatever caricature we’ve all created of you.” Just for the record, a caricature is defined as “a representation, especially pictorial or literary, in which the subject’s distinctive features or peculiarities are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque effect.” The pictures themselves were of course all too real, even from an exaggerated angle. However, there was no exaggeration of the story or Weiner’s image, particularly not only his perverse fetish but his repeated lying and attacks on others including reporters. This is not a “grotesque imitation or misrepresentation” of Weiner. He only appears like a caricature because most human beings are incapable to displaying these characteristics and faults. He is an exaggeration of human weakness and faults. He is his caricature and that is what makes him so creepy.
I do not believe (perhaps in an example of hope over experience) that Weiner can return to office. However, there is obvious support and a concerted effort for his return. The mere effort reflects how relativistic we have become. There seems little that a powerful person can do today that is clearly disqualifying for some. His supporters are engaging in the ultimate exercise of moral relativism: he is creepy and disgusting but not any more creepy and disgusting than people like Vitters. It is not a common refrain that your own ethical or moral obligations are reduced in light of the failure of others to meet their own ethical or moral obligations.
The article’s long discussion of what a good dad Weiner has now become and the love affair with his wife was clearly meant to humanize Weiner. However, that had more of a feeling of a caricature than the one reportedly described by Stewart. I wish Weiner the best on his rehabilitation as he works through his technology and father issues. However, he should do his party and the country a big favor and return full-time to his recovery and leave public office to others. Certainly New York must have a few Democrats able to step forward to seek public office to guarantee that Weiner has no further temptations or distractions.
Source: Washington Post