Is a Return to Public Life a Good Idea for Anthony Weiner?
Ace is right that the author of the Times' piece, Jonathan Van Meter, really dropped the ball on the timeline of the central event in his story. And it's not as if he didn't know that Weiner is trying to rehabilitate himself with this interview. Later in the story he writes "there certainly was a lot of strategic thinking in deciding to tell their story six months before the mayoral primary." And yet he lets Weiner skate on the ugly details that actually pushed him to come clean.
Making space for the truth to come out in that case was a real battle. Like Ace, I was one of the bloggers that got on this story very early. I noted that he'd apparently DM'd at least two young women on Twitter and provided links to the evidence. That was Saturday night less than 24 hours after the tweet that started it all.
By Sunday there was a full response from Weiner and the woman to whom he'd sent the errant image. He claimed he was hacked. She claimed there was no illicit relationship and both of them suggested anyone who said otherwise was a liar. The left went nuts accusing bloggers like me of being duped by a hacker, promising we'd never live down the shame. It was a very long weekend and by Sunday night I was pretty worried Weiner would continue to lie and, with the help of his progressive friends and a lackadaisical media, come away as the victim in the whole thing.
There were a couple of reporters who did some decent work on the story, including Dana Bash at CNN, but Weiner still might have gotten away with it if not for Andrew Breitbart. I am not at all convinced Weiner was about to come forward on his own if the photos hadn't forced his hand.
The other thing that's odd in the Times piece is that Weiner describes his underlying problem as a need to be liked which got reckless and out of hand. The article quotes friends and family who suggest that he has become a different person since losing his job. One of these defenders says he has lost the "douchiness" that once crossed over from his public persona into his personal life. Weiner himself assures Van Meter he's not the same driven man he used to be. He can take it or leave it now.
Let's say I sort of believe him to some extent. Maybe Weiner really has gotten his life to a better place now. He's got a little more balance. So what happens to all that when he reenters public life and his family is necessarily on the back burner? Van Meter touches on this dynamic when he writes "The question is why Weiner is so eager to enter a race that seems so tough for him to win." Reading the article you get the impression Weiner's run for Mayor could be the political equivalent of a sober alcoholic deciding to return to his job as bartender.