Well, that was fun while it lasted. Anthony Weiner's big comeback just went from improbable to impossible in a matter of a single day, thanks to whatever irrepressible instinct leads him to involuntarily send pictures of his penis to young women and the media 12-car-pile-up that's always sure to result from it. Sure, he may be standing firm, so to speak, on his threat to continue campaigning to become New York City's next mayor, but let's be real: he's toast. New York voters may be evolved enough to forgive one indiscretion that calls your judgment into serious question but they're not stupid enough to forgive two. It would take a near-psychotic detachment from the real world or a gargantuan ego to think otherwise, which probably goes a long way in explaining why Weiner's vowing to fight on like nothing just happened.
When the original Anthony Weiner sexting scandal first broke only two summers ago, there were of course immediate calls for him to resign from the U.S. House (as if he were somehow the most loathsome creature stalking the halls of the Capitol). At the time, though, I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post suggesting that he stay still and ride the whole mess out. I wasn't necessarily defending Weiner's abhorrent behavior, just acknowledging reality. In our current media climate not only have we become desensitized to scandal, but the rapid-fire nature of it has ensured that we never stay fixated on anything for very long. News cycles turn over in a matter of hours; social networking has shortened our attention spans to the point where we read only headlines and think in 140-characters or less. We descend on something in seconds, strip it clean, then move on to the next shiny object that gets our attention. Case in point: Just ten hours ago the fucking royal baby was all anyone was reporting on; the American press turned on a dime the second the Weiner story broke wide. We do love our little all-encompassing obsessions, for a while anyway.
Following 2011's revelations, Anthony Weiner easily could've laid low and concentrated on doing his job and after a very short amount of time he'd go right back to being just another boring congressman. That's if he wanted to be completely self-serving. The decent and noble thing he could've done -- besides not jerking off to online college fangirls in the first place -- was resign and disappear completely for at least longer than the amount of time it takes Hollywood to reboot a successful movie franchise. But the fact that Weiner felt that he could turn around and make a comeback so quickly proves that his ego is playing the role of co-pilot right next to his penis and he's just along for the ride at all times, while the fact that his candidacy for mayor ever stood even an outside chance proves my point that scandals are in fact easily forgiven and quickly forgotten. I'm sure Weiner looked to former South Carolina governor and newly minted representative Mark Sanford for inspiration and living proof that voters have really short memories these days.
And yet it takes not simply narcissism but something bordering on dangerous sociopathy to know that there are pictures of your junk and horny texts from your online alter-ego still floating around out there -- material dated post-scandal -- and choose to put yourself back in the spotlight anyway, making you and your family a giant target. If Weiner had either stayed in office and kept his head down or, better yet, vanished completely from the cultural radar, it's doubtful anyone would've gone public with year-old dirt because -- why bother? Who would've given a damn? It's precisely because he was such an arrogant asshole that he thought he could run for office again -- that a mere two years was more than enough penance -- that somebody decided to kick him in the balls in front of the country. New texts and pictures from Anthony Weiner wouldn't have been a story were he merely Citizen Weiner and not New York City Mayoral Candidate Weiner.
I don't care much what Weiner does in his personal life and I never did. Certainly it was unbecoming of a United States congressman to be collecting co-eds like baseball cards, but I expect very little from our elected officials these days other than that they do their fucking jobs. But what's inexcusable and should be to the voters of New York City is the terrible judgment, unrelenting recklessness, gargantuan hubris, tenuous relationship with the truth, and callous disregard for his family that Anthony Weiner has shown in the past and is now cavalierly showing off. By running in the first place knowing there were potential hidden land-mines underground that could certainly hurt him and, most importantly, his long-suffering wife if stepped on, he proved his self-obsession and lack of prudence. Weiner is either an arrogant risk junkie or a delusional fool. Either way, he shouldn't be mayor of America's greatest city. And I sincerely doubt he will be.
Although who knows? Tomorrow the royal baby might announce that it's joining the remaining Beatles for a worldwide reunion tour -- or Eliot Spitzer may be arrested for assaulting a Girl Scout -- and everybody will forget all about this.