Anthony Weiner says he will continue his run for New York City mayor, despite acknowledging Tuesday evening that he had continued trading sexually explicit photos and texts with a 22-year-old woman as late as last summer — a year after his lewd sexting, and blundering cover-up, forced him from Congress. (Watch the NBC News report above.)
The New York Times editorial board probably speaks for a lot of New Yorkers when it wishes that "the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web, and out of the race for mayor of New York City." How can voters trust a candidate with such poor judgment, "arrogance," and slippery regard for the truth?
It's up to Mr. Weiner if he wants to keep running, to count on voters to forgive and forget and hand him the keys to City Hall. But he has already disqualified himself. [New York Times]
Assuming Weiner, 48, does stay in the race, that will be up to New York City voters to decide. Plenty of them were willing to give him the second chance he's asking for before the new embarrassing revelations — he has consistently been first or second in the polls since his late jump into the race. Here are five people or groups who probably hope Weiner — or, as we will be constantly reminded, "Carlos Danger" (his awesome/terrible online pseudonym) — continues with his quest for redemption and the keys to the mayor's office.
1. Huma Abedin
Weiner's wife is invested enough in his comeback bid that she did "something extraordinary" on Tuesday night, says Juliet Eilperin at The Washington Post. "She spoke, at some length." Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, is used to the rough and tumble of politics, but she has always worked quietly in the background. Her "personal and poignant defense of her husband" brings her into the foreground, says Eilperin, and it's "Weiner's best (and really only) chance at somehow surviving this latest set of revelations."
"We discussed all of this before Anthony decided to run for mayor," Abedin told the reporters at Weiner's hastily arranged press conference. "So really what I want to say is I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him, and as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward."
Abedin and Weiner knew this moment would come, and they were prepared for it, says Garance Franke-Ruta at The Atlantic. "They decided he should make a run for it, anyway." Weiner had warned about new online sexual adventures coming out, and here they are. With this now out in the open, "Weiner, strange as it may be to say, is one difficult step closer to his eventual comeback," says Franke-Ruta.
2. Eliot Spitzer
The former New York governor decided to jump into the New York City comptroller race, coincidentally or not, after Weiner rode his own name recognition to the top of the mayoral polls. There's a risk that Weiner's post-scandal sexting will taint all bids for political redemption — if Weiner continued sending crotch shots of himself, did Spitzer have a prostitution relapse?
But there's an even better chance that Weiner's made-for-tabloids Carlos Danger online escapades will consume New York's scandal lust through at least the September primary elections, allowing Spitzer to carry on his own comeback race, looking good in comparison.
Spitzer may not be the only New York City candidate hoping Weiner stays in, either. While many of Weiner's rival mayoral candidates have urged him to drop out after the new sexting revelations, frontrunner Christine Quinn (D) has not. Quinn, who is in the lead in the latest Sienna College/New York Times poll, probably benefits from having a weakened Weiner dividing the not-Quinn vote. Of course, it's a good bet she comes out ahead whatever Weiner does now.
Anyway, congratulations to Mayor Christine Quinn
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 23, 2013
The Post is at least being honest, says Joe Concha at Mediaite. Weiner's "cheesy, sketchy, lewd photos and messages" will now take up space that would otherwise be filled by "pesky items such as budgets, taxes, and security" issues. "And the media — local and national — wouldn't have it any other way."
This is certainly another easy story to talk about in the world of cable news. Here's how it works: A producer books one guest who finds Weiner's actions deplorable and yearns for the good old days when politicians didn't engage in such behavior.... Once a producer has guest No. 1 in place... it's off to find a foil, likely a political strategist, who can fill the role as the "as long as he can do the job, his private life is private" advocate. Evoke Bill Clinton, claim this kind of behavior happens all the time, and bam... you've got yourself a compelling segment to run with for the next three days. [Mediaite]
This scandal is gold for Weiner, who could "send out 100 hundred more photos and sexts to girls half his age from now to November" and still be "celebrated in the streets of New York and throughout news rooms across the city when he becomes its next mayor," Concha grouses. Because Anthony Weiner is a "deeply flawed story that keeps writing itself."
4. People who have their own lewd online trail
The fact that Weiner continued sexting after Weinergate calls his "current bid for New York City's trust into question," says Amanda Hess at Slate. But this new round of online sexy talk does not make Weiner a "particularly depraved (and even criminal!) candidate," as some are suggesting. Come on: "Let he who has not sexted cast the first stone."
What would the American public find if it combed through all of your Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, and Gchat history? If it had an exclusive peek into your webcam, or could scroll through your iPhone pics at will? This great nation is littered with hard drives full of poorly lit topless pics, broken promises to former lovers, and messages that sounded sexy at the time but look very stupid now. Anthony Weiner's sexts don't make him look like a sexual predator or even a freak. They make him look very, very ordinary. [Slate]
Truly, "the most truly unique thing about this scandal is just how incredibly long-running it is," says Matt Berman at National Journal. Nude selfies aren't the stuff of Watergate, but this drip-drip-drip of Weiner sexts is "playing out over a similar timeframe." That's the combination of politics and the internet.
Right now, it's the kids of politicians who have largely been getting into political trouble (See: Jeff Flake). But once those kids, and that generation, starts running for office and winning in larger numbers, it's safe to assume we'll be seeing more Anthony Weiner-type scandals.... That's the obvious nature of the Internet that is only just now becoming a fact of political life: What goes online, stays online. Forever. And don't think for a second that Weiner is the only person who has ever held elected office who has thought that calling himself a pseudonym like "Carlos Danger" online would be a good idea. [National Journal]
5. People who are living out their own "second chances"
On Tuesday night, Weiner walked from his "cringeworthy" press conference to a mayoral candidates' forum, says Business Insider's Brett LoGiurato, and he immediately "drew a lengthy cheer" from the audience. "His opening statement made mention of the new scandal — and he thanked the media for sticking around — but he twisted it into his common theme of a second chance."
That's the big theme of Weiner's campaign, and at least at this forum — which focused on funding for HIV/AIDS prevention — that message still works. Two women in the audience, both former drug addicts, tell LoGiurato why they were rooting for the obviously flawed candidate: "They both felt that they had been given a second chance in life and that Weiner was the best candidate to turn around their city." Weiner's political fate may depend on how many other New Yorkers feel the same way.