Anthony Weiner has clearly learned the first lesson of surviving a scandal: don’t resign. Or as the case may be, leave the race. It seems obvious. But you’d be surprised at just much more politics happens with people not quite realizing this fact. It’s a lesson Bill Clinton taught me.Believe it or not, I’m not entirely convinced this means Anthony Weiner won’t be the next Mayor of New York. Believe me, I’m not saying I’m betting on it. But I’m not convinced his campaign is over. Remember, he entered the campaign as the guy who only a couple years earlier had ignominiously resigned from Congress after being revealed as a inveterate dick-pic sender. So I think it’s fair to say there was some inherent weakness in the field and some intrinsic strengths to his candidacy. Also, while it may be hard for folks outside New York to comprehend this, the one-time but fast-sinking frontrunner, Christine Quinn, is so unpopular that I’m not sure this is enough to push her back into a real lead.
Garance Franke-Ruta has an interesting take on the press conference itself: how clearly prepared Weiner and Abedin were for this moment and how they clearly knew it was coming. I wish I could comment on whether I saw it the same way but I can’t because – to be honest – I kept walking away from the TV in our office as it transpired because it made me feel too uncomfortable to watch.
My own take is that this is now less a matter of Weiner’s behavior (I mean, it’s just a repeat) or even the fact that he continued doing sex chats well into the contrition/redemption phase of his redemption narrative. It’s more whether the campaign simply collapses under the weight of its own ridiculousness. The combination of the original texts, the new texts, the new picture, the new press conference, the next press conference next week, the new nom de freak. You can just imagine the City just responding with a collective ‘Really?’ and then the whole edifice just falls in on itself.
But then again, I’m not totally sure that’s going to happen.