If there’s any irony in this world, it’s that Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandals keep him, and his unfortunate last name, in the news. What’s not at all humorous, however, is the fact that he remains in the New York mayoral race, damaging his own credibility and making light of New York’s democratic process.
Weiner, who last served as a member of the House of Representatives, was forced to resign in 2011 amid a sexting scandal in which he accidentally revealed an explicit picture on his Twitter account. This private message was intended for a young woman who was not his wife. His wife, Huma Abedin, happens to be Hillary Clinton’s No. 2. In the aftermath of that scandal, under intense public scrutiny, Weiner admitted his mistake, apologized and resigned from his position. And that was the last that the public heard of him until he entered the New York City mayoral race earlier this year.
Though Weiner is not the first man to be unfaithful to his wife, his public demeanor in the face of such blatant scandal is nothing less than despicable. Instead of showing remorse and quietly retreating from the race, he chose to continue campaigning, even after another sexting scandal, this time under the alias of “Carlos Danger.”
He has attempted to downplay his transgressions, saying in a post-scandal advertisement that, “If someone wants to come out … with something embarrassing about you in your private life, you’ve got to talk about that for a little while.”
Weiner seems to be under the illusion that his campaign has suffered only a minor setback, a temporary handicap from which he will bounce back. This scandal is not just a temporary one. It’s a pattern of unabashed behavior that Weiner is clearly not at all sorry for, nor does he have the self-control to at least hide it from the public.
His poor decision-making is not what voters want in an elected public official, someone who people expect to at least be a little more careful with his or her “embarrassing” private decisions. It is irrational to expect responsible public behavior and decision-making from a man who cannot even control his private life.
The name Eliot Spitzer also comes to mind when discussing politicians from New York who have had trouble keeping their personal lives private. The former governor of New York, Spitzer was also forced to resign because of his patronage of a high-priced prostitute.
A few days after these allegations came to light, Spitzer announced his resignation and apologized. What he did not do, however, was re-enter the political field after such a high-profile scandal. He began with stints in academia, always a respectable and neutral ground. He began granting interviews with media outlets. He avoided highly controversial and partisan topics, however, telling the Washington Post, “Mistakes I made in my private life now prevent me from participating in these issues as I have in the past.” And rightly so.
Spitzer acknowledged that he had lost the trust of the public, and he took his time to rebuild his public image. He is now running for New York City’s comptroller, a lower level position than he had held before. Unlike Weiner, who has the bravado to run for New York City mayor, Spitzer took the correct path in returning to politics. More importantly, however, Spitzer did not repeat his same mistakes. At the very least, if Spitzer has relapsed back into consorting with high-priced prostitutes, we do not know about it because it has not been exposed publicly.
This very fact has strengthened his credibility with voters. America likes redemption stories. After all, Bill Clinton remained in office, and we tend to forgive politicians and celebrities should they show the proper remorse for their actions. Weiner, however, has not done that and has not taken any convincing steps to show the public that he is truly sorry for what he has done.
New York City voters seem to be over the possibility of Weiner as mayor — his poll numbers are low (under 10 percent in most recent polling) and his campaign is running out of both money and support from public figures, especially Democrats. The only person who seems to not understand this is Weiner himself.
Ida Abhari is a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law.
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