Jewish World Review June 10, 2011 8 Sivan, 5771
Weiner in Hell
By Roger Simon
He should have followed his dream.
Instead, he became enamored of student politics and felt the heady rush of being listened to, recognized and admired. At the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, he became a big man on campus.
Upon graduation, he went to work for then-Rep. Chuck Schumer. A blink of time later, just six years out of college, Weiner became the youngest person ever to be elected to the New York City Council. He was 27.
He would serve on the council for six years and then make the leap to the House of Representatives, a job, for the moment, he stills holds.
His life has been filled with magic. He pals around with movie stars liked Ben Affleck and TV stars like Jon Stewart. He married the beautiful (and very private) Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton officiated at their wedding. The New York Times has reported the couple are now expecting their first child.
But on Monday, the magic ended, with Weiner tearfully announcing on national TV that over the years he has sent lewd photographs to women on the Internet and lied about it to his wife, colleagues, friends and reporters. In the 27-minute, often raucous news conference — he held it in New York, so what else? — he apologized 29 times.
He insisted that his wife was standing by him. But he was speaking symbolically, because she was nowhere to be seen. Late the next day, she boarded a plane to Africa, for what press accounts say is a "week-long, four-country visit."
All of this has given commentators free rein to commit sociology: What is the role of spouses in either saving or sinking their wayward partners? What is it about power that not only corrupts but also leads smart men to do stupid things? Have social media created new forms of boys acting badly or merely facilitated the old forms?
If Anthony Weiner had been born Anthony Smith, thereby robbing the media of the opportunity to make endless sniggering jokes, would the scandal have been so deliciously impossible to ignore?
And where are our women elected officials when it comes to sex scandals? There are 17 women in the Senate and 75 women in the House, and when it comes to carnal wrongdoing, you never hear a peep out of them.
This is odd when you consider the English language has so many ugly terms for wayward women (slut, tramp, bimbo and so forth) and so few to describe wayward men (Lothario? womanizer? playboy? dude? None seem to quite do it.)
Women are always clambering about equality, yet when it comes to publicly debasing themselves through sexual misadventure, they hold back. (Prime example: the history of the Kennedy men compared to the history of the Kennedy women.)
If you take a look at the history of Weiner's behavior — and who hasn't? — you see a man who has a compulsion, perhaps an illness. When, on Monday, I suggested this on the "Charlie Rose Show," it seemed a little over the top. Today, just two days later, it seems obvious.
A normal person would seek professional help, but Weiner is not a normal person. He is an elected official. And he might find it difficult to tell the public he deserves re-election and the same time he is telling the public he is seeing a psychiatrist.
But he should do so anyway. His health plan will pay for it. How could it not? His health plan covers members of Congress.
The public loves to see the mighty brought low, but they also love a good comeback. Weiner can come back. He has already done the groveling phase, next he must do the seek-help phase and then the new-man phase. His political resurrection will almost surely follow.
But it might be a long and rocky road, unlike any he has traveled. His life thus far has moved smoothly and at warp speed. No more. Now he realizes how ordinary people live their lives, moving down a highway strewn with potholes and speed traps, lurching between victory and failure, scrabbling to stay on track.
Anthony Weiner may be dreaming about life as a weatherman right now. We never know what lies on the path not taken. But we know where Weiner's chosen path has led him.
His wife is in Africa. Weiner is in hell.
Enjoy yourself, dude.
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