Just as voters were recovering from the undressed tweet sent this week by Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera, New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner faced new questions about a new series of obscene tweets. On Tuesday, Weiner told a crowded press conference that yes, there is still more lewd material likely to surface during the campaign, and no, he’s not quitting the race.
Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin also spoke at the press conference, expressing her support for Weiner and telling the media that she has forgiven her husband. The tweets and photos, she said, are a private matter. “I love him, I believe in him,” she read from a prepared statement. “We are moving forward.”
But more unsettling than the appearance of new tweets was the news that Weiner had still been sending erotic messages almost a year after he resigned from Congress—and during the period when he and his wife were in therapy. Some of the new pictures were allegedly sent after People magazine did a story last August about the Weiner family. In that story, Weiner talked about newfound happiness in his marriage and new baby.
Ms. Abedin may be right that the sexual misbehavior is a matter between her and her husband. And some people might also argue that sexual misbehavior should not automatically disqualify a politician from holding office. But voters certainly have the right to question a candidate’s ability to control himself. They might also wonder about the hypocrisy of giving an interview about a wonderful family life when the husband is continuing his salacious online behavior.
One reporter—who shouted the question but didn’t get an answer—asked Weiner if he would continue his obscene behavior if voters elected him mayor. If that happened—which suddenly seems a lot less likely—I’m pretty confident Weiner would stop the tweeting. But I’m a lot less certain that he’s the “very, very different person” he claimed to be in the People story.
Once again, voters should remind themselves that political sex scandals aren’t really about sex—they’re about character. New York voters can, if they wish, forgive the sexting, but are they really willing to overlook Weiner’s duplicity? To believe him when he tells them he deserves their trust? Answers to those questions are a lot more important than racy Internet pictures.
As the new Weiner scandal unfolds, Eliot Spitzer’s staff must be holding emergency meetings to assess its impact on Spitzer’s campaign for comptroller. With Spitzer, voters face a similar dilemma. They may forgive him for visiting expensive prostitutes, but can they forgive a former attorney general who flagrantly broke laws they trusted him to enforce?
Photo Source: The New Yorker