It takes a fair bit of gall to accuse the media of lying about a sex scandal. It takes even more gall to then admit to the sex scandal, resign, claim you’ve redeemed yourself and decide to run again. And it takes the most gall to do all of those things, even as you’re engaged in a continuation of that sex scandal.
But when your name is Anthony Weiner, gall is your middle name.
Or perhaps Danger is.
Weiner resigned from Congress in June 2011, but only after claiming that Andrew Breitbart had fabricated photos of his scantily clad body. Breitbart stood by the claim; of course, Breitbart was correct, and Weiner was lying. In his tearful admission of guilt, Weiner told the American public that he was “deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and actions. … This was a very dumb thing to do.”
By the following year, Weiner was already on the rebound tour. In a joint People magazine interview with his wife, Huma Abedin, Weiner claimed, “I really do feel like a very, very different person. … I’ve had enormous regrets about what I put Huma through, how I let my constituents down. But it’s not like I sit all day replaying it in my mind. With a baby, it is pretty easy to put things into perspective.” Huma, for her part, stood by her man: “I’m proud to be married to him. … My husband did a really stupid thing. It was an extremely painful time. But there was love and a commitment to this marriage.”
That interview was published July 30, 2012. At the time, Weiner was already pursuing a cybersex relationship with a 23-year-old woman under the nom de plume Carlos Danger. He was encouraging her to delete all their messages and reportedly promising her jobs at high-octane political media outlets like Politico.
This week, Weiner said he wouldn’t withdraw from the mayoral campaign. He asked New Yorkers for “another chance.” Huma appeared before the cameras, Hillary Clinton-style, to provide cover for her embattled husband. Weiner refused to give details on when his online activities started or stopped and said he would not confirm how many other photos could be out there.
The people of New York continue to grant Weiner topline credibility; polls show him leading or barely trailing in the mayoral race. Liberal media personalities like Tamara Holder have already begun the spin: Sex scandals are private business, and nobody should care about who has seen Weiner’s Carlos — or rather, Carlos’ weiner. Holder tweeted, “Public service has nothing to do with bedroom service. 98.4367 percent of men cheat. I do know a few good men who don’t. Leave ?#Weiner alone.” Unfortunately, Weiner hasn’t left Americans alone.
This is what happens when society decides that honor is not a central value. Politicians can lie to the media then somehow spin those lies as a “private matter.” Politicians can declare they’ve been cured, and Americans are expected to grant them a second chance. Forget trust but verify. Americans have embraced apathy. We expect our politicians to lie to us on everything from their political views to their personal lives. All of it is irrelevant. All that matters is name recognition.
Weiner may not win the mayoral mansion, although the media is hard at work shifting attention to the supposed heroism of his wife. But there are always more Weiners where this one came from, so long as Americans keep standing for this nonsense.