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Weiner's Comeback: The Ego Returns

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Anthony Weiner resized
, member of the United States House of Represe...

By Ben Cohen: On most issues, I agree with former Congressman Anthony Weiner. His unashamed liberalism has always been refreshing and he was a force for good in a political system that rarely produces anything to write home about. But Weiner let himself and his side down with his indefensible personal behavior that not only wrecked his career, but revealed a darker motivation on his part that should make people wary of his intentions should he decided to get back into politics. And it has been reported that a frustrated Weiner is 'seriously considering' a mayoral run in NYC next year. From the NYPost:

The disgraced former congressman — who’s sitting on a $4.5 million campaign war chest — is mulling a bid for citywide office next year and “seriously considering” a mayoral run, multiple sources told The Post.

The cocky pol is also open to the post of public advocate as a backup plan, said sources, who described the Queens Democrat as “desperate” to get back into politics.

Weiner, 47, has even spoken to former staffers about going back to work for him, according to another source.

Weiner has every right to run for public office, and there are no legal reasons why he cannot throw his hat into the ring. But given his personal transgressions, voters should think twice before giving him access to power.

Generally speaking, I do not believe the personal lives of politicians is anyone's business. I don't care if the President, congressman, senator etc etc cheats on his or her spouse. I don't care if they've taken drugs, go to strip clubs or engage in homosexual activity. It's their business and as long as it doesn't affect the job they are doing, it's off limits as far as I am concerned.

But there is something unsettling about Anthony Weiner, profiled The New York Times as a demanding and volatile boss, who's sex scandal pointed to some very worrying psychological traits that would, I believe, negatively affect his ability to serve the public interest. For the uninitiated, the married Congressman was caught sending pictures of his genitals to a 21 year old college women over Twitter (and while his wife was pregnant). When caught, Weiner denied he sent the photos until the overwhelming evidence forced him to admit to that and other illicit tweets and photos to other women over the years. Reading the transcript of his correspondence with these women is enlightening to say the least. What emerges is a picture of a serious narcissist concerned only with his public persona, power and attractiveness. Here's an exchange with a woman he messaged for over a year on facebook with:

Anthony Weiner: hello lisa
Lisa: hi baby! sent you a message the other day, but i think it went on instant chat for some odd reasonA
AnthonyWeiner: i missed it. sorry sweetie
Lisa: no prob...i was so psyched to see u on colbert! you were so funny
Anthony Weiner: you watch it naked?
Lisa: haha! of course! u need to let me know when your are going to be on tv! i keep missing you
Anthony Weiner: you don't get my twitter feed?
<= feelings hurt
Lisa: i do! and I'm still waiting 4 ur barmitva pics! but I don't get on twitter everyday, so i don't always get to catch your hot face on all your shows
ah i ran the bar mitzvah pics btw
ooohhh..i can't wait to see it! I will go there before bed! you are sooo awesome when you yell at those fox news f***s! that clip was awesome
Anthony Weiner: i'm glad you like

Politicians are a strange breed of creatures, many of whom are playing out their serious insecurities and psychological hangups in the public arena. To put yourself up for routine public flogging via the modern media requires a degree of narcissism bordering on the insane. There must be a certain element of self loathing involved too - a pleasure derived from public vitriol and humiliation that most normal people would find completely unthinkable. Most public figures manage to keep a lid on these personality traits, but politicians like John Edwards and Anthony Weiner are so insecure and egotistical that they insist on playing roulette with their personal lives on a daily basis.

I am not arguing that Weiner didn't accomplish anything while in office - on the contrary, he is regarded as having been a good Congressman dedicated to his city and progressive politics. Weiner had great, great potential and could have been a major force for good in US politics. But what is clear is that Weiner is not in command of his own behavior - his complex makeup means he constantly requires attention and power (hence his desperation to get back into public office), and he will forever fly by the seat of his pants to ensure his appetite for excitement and danger is met. Bullying staff, sexting and sending photos of his genitalia to women he never met are all signs of a serious megalomaniac, and for that reason, he should probably stay away from public office in the future.

Former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer is a similar type of character who disgraced himself and his office with illicit sexual activities that were so brazen it was incredible he got away with it for so long. But Spitzer, to his credit, seems has come to terms with his own psychological irregularities and has carved out a new career for himself as a host on a news and opinion show on Current TV.

Weiner's voice is an important one - he stands for progressive politics and is unafraid to challenge Republicans who for too long have bullied Democrats afraid of stating their beliefs. The political game seems to bring out the very best and worst of Anthony Weiner and it seems it is not a balancing act he can manage very well. I could be wrong of course, and Weiner may well have changed his ways. But I suspect that if he had, he wouldn't really want to get back into politics and would be content following Spitzer's lead and using his voice in other less dangerous careers.

I still respect Weiner and think he can do a lot of good. But just not in politics.

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