If there were ever a man with an unfortunate (albeit somewhat appropriate) last name, it would be former Congressman and candidate for Mayor of New York City Anthony Weiner. Since his infamous Twitter sexting debacle in May of 2011 and his brief but unsuccessful attempt to make a comeback in the 2013 Mayoral race (documented by the fly-on-the-wall documentary film Weiner that premiered at Sundance this past January), Weiner has been largely absent from the public eye. But his hard-won silence came to an abrupt end when allegations arose a week ago Friday that he had been sexting a 15-year-old girl from North Carolina. As a result of his connection with soon-to-be ex-wife and Vice Chairman of the Clinton campaign, Huma Abedin, the implications of Weiner-gate have been damaging for the Democrats, to say the least.
Weiner’s previous scandal occurred just this past August when it was discovered that he sent a lewd photo that also happened to feature his young son to a woman to whom he has been talking since January of 2015. This latest calamity was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Abedin, who had stayed with him since their marriage six years ago.
“After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life. During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy,” said Abedin in a statement released August 29.
However, according to ABC News, Abedin hadn’t been wearing a wedding ring while on the campaign trail, and the couple had been “living together but effectively separated for some time.”
Weiner has been a recurring nightmare for the Democrats. According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult Poll from this October, his approval rating has dropped to eight percent, making him more politically unpopular than Russia.
“I’m not a big fan,” said Joe Biden in an interview with CNN. “I wasn’t before he got in trouble. So I shouldn’t comment on Anthony Weiner.”
Others were more outspoken and crude in their disdain.
“We’re still talking about that asshole during a presidential election?” asked the Chairman of the Democratic primary John Burton.
“It’s like one of those Damien movies—it’s like every time you think he’s dead, he keeps coming again,” said Reverend Al Sharpton.
Before his first sexting slip-up, Anthony Weiner was quickly rising to liberal stardom on the floor of the House, well-known for his fiery defense of 9/11 first responders. However, after mid-2011, estrangement from his own party was nothing new for friendless yet ever-optimistic politician. At the beginning his 2013 campaign, Weiner had practically no allies or endorsements from major political figures. A poll from Quinnipiac University in May of 2013 revealed that 49 percent of those polled believed that he shouldn’t run for Mayor, with that number increasing to 52 percent among women. To top it off, at the beginning of the campaign, Weiner’s team had practically no idea about important logistical details, such as where campaign offices would operate and when they would run television advertisements. Nevertheless, Weiner remained hopeful, saying in an interview that his go-it-alone strategy is “to some degree…my most natural footing.”
But despite his isolation in the political sphere at the start of the campaign, he was actually on the verge of what could have been a political resurrection in mid-July. He was performing well in polls and raising a significant amount of money. His newfound success came crashing to a halt when explicit text messages from the previous year with a woman by the name of Sydney Leathers were brought to light. What’s worse, Weiner used the pseudonym Carlos Danger to conduct his business. Weiner refused to drop out amidst strong opposition to his candidacy, eventually winning less than five percent of the vote for the Democratic nomination.
Revelations about Weiner’s scandals seem to come at the most critical times in elections, as evidenced by his 2013 run. Criticism of Weiner’s behavior reached an all-time high when emails relevant to the F.B.I.’s previously-closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server were discovered on his computer during the probe into his latest scandal. In light of this discovery, F.B.I. Director James Comey wrote a letter to Congress, notifying them that agents would “take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
This mention of her private email server added fuel to the fire of Clinton skepticism a mere eleven days before voters head to the polls. Many worried Clinton would lose her slim 6-point national lead over Trump as a result, but the latest NBC News Poll reported that the whole ordeal has done nothing of the sort. While 55 percent of voters across the country said the discovery of more emails constituted an important issue, 44 percent called it simply a distraction, with Republicans tending to believe the former and Democrats the latter.
“I think people made up their minds a long time ago,” Clinton commented.
Comey apparently agreed, eventually staying with his former conclusion not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton.
So, what has Anthony Weiner been up to when he hasn’t been sending suggestive pictures to random women and getting into shouting matches with voters? After his initial scandal, Weiner took up consulting and even began his own green-energy business, and Abedin and Weiner revealed that their 2012 income was nearly half a million dollars, largely due to Weiner’s hard work. And after his failed Mayoral bid and subsequent scandal, Weiner found a niche as a political commentator and Twitter aficionado (and, interestingly, an actor in Sharknado 3). He then acquired and quickly lost a job at a high-profile public relations firm, as well as a job as an opinion columnist at the New York Daily News, eventually opting to focus on his duties at a stay-at-home dad. It seems as though all this free time has not been the best idea.
Even so, Weiner has implied that he might once again seek a government position. He announced he would come out of the woodwork to beat any Trump offspring in the race for Mayor of New York City “like a rented mule.” To that, Mayor de Blasio had some simple advice: “I think he is someone who should address his issues and not worry about public office.”