This morning the New York Times Magazine published an 8,500-word profile of Anthony Weiner, presumably as the opening gambit in his attempt at a political comeback. I just finished reading it — thanks, coffee! — and I’ll need some time to unpack it all. But the first paragraph should give you an idea of the tone:
One day in early February, I met Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin for breakfast at the Gramercy Park Hotel, one of their regular joints, just a few blocks from their apartment on Park Avenue South. The first thing Weiner said when I sat down was that their 13-month-old son, Jordan, had just moments ago taken his first step. They were both giddy, kvelling with baby-pride, especially Weiner, who, with all his free time, has become his son’s primary caretaker. This is what life is like now for the man whose name is invariably followed in print by some version of “the disgraced former congressman who sent out a lewd picture of himself via Twitter.” He seems to spend much of his time within a five-block radius of his apartment: going to the park with Jordan; picking up his wife’s dry cleaning and doing the grocery shopping; eating at his brother Jason’s two restaurants in the neighborhood. This is what happens after a scandal: Ranks are closed and the world shrinks to a tiny dot. It is a life in retreat. And for a man who was known, pre-scandal, for his overweening ambition, his constant presence on cable news, his hard-charging schedule that verged on lunacy, well, it has been quite a change.
All together now, people: Awwwwwwwwwww. Poor guy!
I’m not sure I can recommend reading the whole thing, but here are some bullet points:
- Weiner and his wife (and longtime Hillary Clinton aide) Huma Abedin knew each other for 10 years before they became romantically involved. At first she thought he was a jerk. Later in their relationship, she thought he was a jerk.
- You think you’ve got problems, pal? “Their lives have become too small, too circumscribed, too claustrophobic for a couple accustomed to public life. They haven’t been to a major event together — no White House Correspondents Dinner, no red-carpet events — in nearly two years. ‘We didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable,’ Abedin said…” I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like.
- The scandal wasn’t just about a politician tweeting a picture of his dong. It was about his blustery lies and obfuscations and blame-throwing in the aftermath. That’s what brought him down. But he did it all for love, folks: “I lied to her. The lies to everyone else were primarily because I wanted to keep it from her.” That would be fine if he hadn’t tried to lay the blame on Andrew Breitbart and others who dared to oppose him politically. But who cares, because the NYT hates Andrew Breitbart and others who dare to oppose them politically.
- Huma and Hillary had a lot of heart-to-heart talks. They’re both strong women who suffered horrible betrayals by the men they loved. Which is weird, because I thought it was “just a blowjob” and “just cybersex.” But there’s no point in expecting any sort of intellectual or emotional consistency in anything related to the Clintons.
- People are mean: “He tried not to read the headlines, which were full of puns on his name. Everyone, it seemed, loved a Weiner joke.”
- Weiner’s friend Jon Stewart, on whether the whole thing surprised him: “It did, in that you never expect the person you know to be the guy on TV in the middle of the quagmire, but it didn’t surprise me in that we’re all human. So it’s not like, ‘My God, I can’t believe the depravity!’ First of all, in terms of these types of scandals, the depravity was on a very low scale.” Again, that would be fine if Weiner hadn’t tried to throw so many other people under the bus. But hey, he didn’t want to hurt his wife’s feelings, right?
- “Weiner fielded a lot of calls from friends and colleagues, many of them offering advice. One prominent state politician called to confess that he was a sex addict and urged Weiner to join his support group.” Spitzer, right? Although I guess “prominent politician who’s a sex addict” doesn’t really narrow it down…
- When Anthony and Huma finally met in person for the first time after the scandal broke, she hid in the trunk of a friend’s car to avoid reporters. I’m not sure how many months pregnant she was at that point.
- Weiner, on how he became interested in his self-photography hobby in the first place: “For a thoughtful person, it’s remarkable how little thought I really gave to it until it was too late.” Can you spot the fundamental error in that sentence?
Then it gets into a lot of therapy talk, at which point I just started skimming. By the end, they finally get down to business: Yes, Anthony Weiner is most probably going to run for mayor of New York City.
Which is awesome.
Another interesting factoid: Out of an 8,500-word piece on the subject of a national scandal, the word “Democrat” appears exactly once: “At a Democratic National Committee retreat on Martha’s Vineyard in August 2001, Weiner asked Abedin if she wanted to go out for a drink.” Otherwise, someone reading this story 1,000 years from now would have no idea which political party Weiner belonged to. Which is just how they want it.
Congratulations in advance, Mayor Weiner!
P.S. Ace: The New York Times Deliberately Falsifies the Chronology to Present a Whitewashed Version of L’Affaire Weiner. Well, it’s not like they can give Breitbart credit for anything.