Alex Yarde argues in favor for Anthony Weiner’s politics, but maintains the biggest challenge to his campaign turns out to be “Carlos Danger” himself.
Some say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior repeatedly expecting different results. By that definition, former New York Congressman, Anthony Weiner, aka “Carlos Danger,” is certifiable.
Following a sexting scandal two years ago, Weiner successfully rehabilitated his image and launched a credible campaign to be Mayor of New York City this spring. All seemed to be going his way, but unfortunately Anthony Weiner can’t seem to kick his new media sex compulsion, and this month he became embroiled in another Internet sex scandal. It would be easy to write him off as a kooky pervert, but the fact remains he’s been one of the most articulate, motivated and passionate advocates for the progressive agenda in Washington for years.
The salacious nature of his latest sexting scandal, the laughable moniker “Carlos Danger” and exposing himself to several sexting partners, in my opinion, should be weighed against the totality of his record before he is written off. The rabid moralizing by the New York Times and other media outlets do the public a disservice by only focusing on his “shortcomings” (I’m not immune to the preposterous nature of his indiscretions) and the work he has done to help his fellow New Yorkers.
Many important progressive politicians have had personal struggles. Their surviving legislative legacies, however, are an important part of our history and have done much to help the 99%. For example, FDR’s New Deal, with its prodigious social programs including Social Security and the WPA project, ushered a generation of Americans out of poverty and into the middle class. He did this while having a long time affair with his distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy challenged his generation to make a manned mission to the moon, established the Peace Corps, ended segregation in interstate travel facilities, and prohibited (though an executive order) discrimination in the sale or leasing of housing that was financed by federally guaranteed loans or owned by the federal government. JFK was also a notorious and serial philanderer, who was associated with everyone from Rita Hayworth to Marilyn Monroe. More recently, Bill Clinton converted the largest budget deficit in American history to the largest surplus and created 22 million jobs in less than eight years (the most ever under a single administration, and more than were created in the previous twelve years). He, however, was impeached over his dalliances with Monica Lewinsky. His wife, Sec. Hillary Clinton, “stood by her man” though it all and went on to have a distinguished legislative career. One has to wonder, if these politicians were run out on a rail over these indiscretions or hid under rocks, where would our country be today?
I’m less concerned with Weiner’s unfortunate struggles with exposing himself online and sexting than his impressive legislative accomplishments in the House. He received a 100% rating from the NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2003 and a 0% rating from National Right to Life Committee in 2006, indicating a strong pro-choice voting record. He was critical of the 2009 Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health care reform bill, calling it “unnecessary and divisive” and saying it would prevent health insurers from offering abortion coverage regardless of whether an individual uses federal funds to purchase an insurance plan. Weiner received an “A” on the Drum Major Institute’s 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.
In April 2008, Weiner created the bi-partisan Congressional Middle Class Caucus. In addition, Weiner secured a full House floor vote for single payer health care and his influence is seen in the Medicare Expansion that became part of the Affordable Health Care Act. He has proven himself as a fearless progressive legislator that can be a bulwark to the 1950’s direction Conservatives long to drag the country back towards essentially unopposed outside of Washington.
I get the sideshow antics and spectacle that his recent actions attract. But he’s not running for Pope. He’s running for Mayor of New York City. I recall that Rudolph Giuliani, the “people’s mayor” and hero of 911, was seen taking his girlfriend to Yankee games while going through a very public and messy divorce with his then wife. I’m not concerned about the danger of his weaknesses as much as I am hopeful about his potential for promoting a strong progressive agenda. Today and in years to come in the major cities and states is where the battles for a woman’s right to chose, voters rights, job creation, strengthening unions, protecting municipal pensions and other issues that impact middle class families will be fought directly.
Detroit’s bankruptcy and threats to pay “pennies on the dollar” on union contracts should act as a canary in the coal mine for municipal workers across the country. I would be the first to say his actions show incredibly poor personal judgment and a deeper impulsive problem. However, I don’t believe it bleeds into how he has performed or would perform as a public servant in the future. His personal conduct, however sorted, is just not a deal breaker for me. Not sure what if anything it says about me other than acknowledging that life is messy and we all have aspects of our behavior we may wish remain a secret. Admittedly those who broadcast secret kinks to the world at large suffer a serious disconnect on how technology works today. But, a recent Harris Interactive poll found that one in five Americans sext or share racy text messages and or pictures with others on their smart phones. This indicates there are quite a few glasshouse dwellers currently lobbing pretty big stones out there.
I’d say the person with the biggest axe to grind is the remarkably resilient and accomplished former aide to Secretary of State Clinton, Ms. Huma Abedin, Mr. Weiner’s spouse, who for some inexplicable reason has been recast from a sympathetic publicly shamed spouse to a power hungry Lady Macbeth, to a subservient, abused Saudi concubine in a recent Times editorial. Unfortunately, for Anthony Weiner, the biggest challenge to his campaign turns out not to be a delighted Christine Quinn (Weiner’s Democratic Rival), but “Carlos Danger” himself. He’s effectively blunted his own momentum. His campaign manager has quit leaving his campaign in disarray.
I think if Weiner survives this latest scandal he will emerge an effective and much needed progressive advocate. If not, many will engage in schadenfreude as they watch a promising political career collapse under the weight of the candidate’s own hubris, which, in the long run, is a blow to the progressive movement. Either way, it looks to be an exciting race for New York City Mayor.
Image Credit: Boss Tweed/Flickr