The Freak Show as Fable

Anthony Weiner is his own mini-series of political coarseness, an X-rated emblem of these tawdry times.

Comments: 181

  1. We need term limits. We also need public financing of all elections and an end to lobbyists.

    I'm not holding my breath.

    What we will get after Weiner is defeated next month is a new reality show featuring Anthony and Huma.

  2. Correctamundo about the "reality show" (i.e., Meet the Weiners) but first comes the obligatory guest shot on Dancing with the Stars where the washed-up celebs of yesteryear tango for absolution and sympathy ("You're right, Bruno; if the voters bring me back I'll make sure to get those knees up and those arms down"). For folks like Carlos there's no bad publicity except no publicity.

  3. Neither term limits or public financing would have stopped Anthony Weiner, nor could they make him go away. A red herring if there ever was one.

  4. We, the American public, get what the media have conditioned us to want and we do not fail the test.

  5. I wish Weiner would go away. Every time I see him on TV or read about him, I feel slightly ill. He's a visible symptom of a sick system, like a rash or hives on the body politic. I've heard so much about his juvenile libido that I don't even know, or care, what his positions on the issues are. They seem irrelevant, since he's extraordinarily unlikely to be mayor. He's also proven himself to be so untrustworthy that time spent listening to his master plan simply seems like time wasted.

    Bill Clinton was a philandering hound, but he was also an incredibly smart politician and charismatic figure who has managed to redeem himself in his later years. Weiner's congressional record is lackluster and pointless, his sexual exhibitionism is weird and embarrassing, and his potential for future redemption seems slim. There are many ways to measure a man's strengths and weaknesses. When everything is taken into account, flawed as these two men are, they should not be mentioned in the same breath.

  6. I appreciate your characterization of Bill Clinton While some comparisons have been made, the two men are not in the same league as to ability, political skill, and intelligence.

  7. "Bill Clinton was a philandering hound, but he was also an incredibly smart politician and charismatic figure who has managed to redeem himself in his later years."

    Analysis of this statement reveals it as nothing more than an apologia for Clinton. His past behavior - in the executive office, no less - cannot be excused, especially by such meaningless and insubstantial dross as "smart politician" and "charismatic."

    We Americans continue to allow increasingly disturbing behavior of our "leaders" and excuse it for any number of reasons. The slippery slope leads to Weiners, Edwards, and Vitters.

    Our political government is and has always been a haven for the ethically-challenged. Why we continue to allow it is beyond me. Perhaps it has to do with our own selfishness that permits us to overlook such behavior as long as the offender is perceived as doing good for us.

    Among politicians and the electorate, the ends justifies the means. For as long as that is the ethical standard we can justly expect our politicians to adhere to it.

  8. @Citizen,
    If everyone who ever had an affair was ineligible for public office, we wouldn't have better government, we'd have no government at all.

    I know Bill Clinton sticks in many people's craw, and they can't get past the deceit and the lurid details of his affair. But I'd rather have Bill Clinton in the oval office hanging naked from a chandelier than Romney fully clad in his magic underwear.

  9. Even if we give Bill Clinton the benefit of the doubt, I would point out that hard cases make bad law. Even if his redemption was understandable in light of the totality of his personality and accomplishments, it set a precedent that can applied in other cases with less favorable details. In the Ancient Roman myth, Lucretia allegedly killed herself so that her case could not be used by others, whose cases might not be so sympathetic, as precedent for allowing them to live.

  10. I blame George W. Bush for setting the bar so low. In the words of H.L. Mencken: "As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

  11. You see further and write more elegantly than Mr. Bruni. Thanks!

  12. A pox on all their houses!

  13. Anthony Weiner's run for mayor is a modern allegory whose destination is politics. Looking closely, I am struck by its values, details, and process; the story has little to do with the vehicle of politics.

    Personal innocence and natural love are crushed as digital sex images act as a catalyst for an ego desire whose sterile, moral violations grew larger, more alarming and public, intruding into society and community. The character doesn't contest the impulses! Swinging from his own gallows, he disguises his yielding to temptation as empathy; but the campaign is an excuse for revelry. I am fascinated by his irrational reverence and obsessive devotion, whose transmitigation and false prowess has connections to Roman gods and science fiction.

  14. You sir, have an incredible gift for making the most sordid worthy of a search for understanding. It's a talent I admire, really.
    When it comes to the subject, at hand, A. Weiner, I compare him to the accident on the road that motorists slow to see and then drive on.
    Trouble is , he was such a wreck there wasn't much to view in spite of digital enhancement.
    It's time for NYC to clear the roadway.

  15. Fahey: Thanks. It's the Ethiopian coffee. Yirgacheffe, Sidamo, Harrar, Limu. Make your own blend!

  16. Excellent, Walter, just excellent.

  17. My take is Weiner, mental case,
    This sort, in the House, fills the place,
    In our current state
    Wackos proliferate,
    See Repubs come the next POTUS race.

  18. Weiner, a mental case?
    He sure keeps on tryin'
    somewhere on Park Avenue...
    Is that a baby, or is it Huma
    Cryin'?

  19. There is no comparison between Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner. Clinton at least engaged in real sex, albeit extramarital. Men of power are a magnet for many women and it is easy for them to find ones who will reciprocate. It is a common affliction among men in power as we have seen many times over the years, from congressmen in fountain pools, to candidates on yachts, and is common to those of all parties.

    However, Weiner has involved himself in what I at least consider some sort of aberrational sexual activity. It is in my mind a perverted form of sexual excitement. It borders on the pornographic, and is like the guy in the overcoat exposing himself to unsuspecting women. I think it belies a character flaw that shows a proclivity to engage in self destructive actions, and such a person in public office worries me. One never knows what devious action he might take just to satisfy some psychological desire.

    His wife appears to reflect the qualities and physical attributes desired by many men, and yet she does not seem good enough for him, how sad, but maybe he is not that good a lover, and knows not how to be one, so substitutes some sort of alternative behavior to satisfy his desires.

    No matter, his behavior shows him to be unreliable, and unable to control himself.
    He should not be given any position of responsibility.

  20. "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." The quote is attributed to Freud, although Bill Clinton would certainly take issue with the assertion.

  21. Weiner can't get laid.

    He is desperate for validation and lacks confidence.

  22. Sorry, David, but you really believe Weiner's lewd, desperate behavior is worse than Clinton's? Both men are disgusting, but your use of the phrase "real sex" seems to excuse Clinton's womanizing, exploitation of a power relationship and real flesh betrayal of his wife.

    I agree that Weiner's lust is weirder, but I fear you too easily excuse Clinton with this "boys will be boys" apologia.

  23. "It’s the story of superficiality trumping substance, of fame rather than accomplishment being the aim . . . Weiner is the poster boy for a subspecies of lawmakers who are really noisemakers, maestros of the cable-ready kerfuffle"

    Would Weiner be a viable candidate for Mayor of NYC if he had not humiliated himself and resigned from Congress?

    We read constantly about him running for Mayor DESPITE what happened. Could it really be that he can only run for Mayor BECAUSE of what happened?

    Now there is a real distinction between him and Bill Clinton.

  24. He was considered a serious candidate for mayor well before scandal #1 broke. At that time, the papers were full of stories suggesting that he was no longer a viable candidate.

  25. Grifters.

    From Wall Street to K Street and every politician who begs to do their dirty work.

  26. A definition of fable is, "A short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral."

    That fits this disgusting situation to a T. The moral is also obvious: too often unchecked egos pervert politics into a tawdry, personal celebrity sport and then use it as an occupation to make contacts and trade influence for obscene amounts of money - before time runs out.

    We're ending up in the surreal situation where politics and governing are no longer part of the same occupation. This dissolves the connection between voting and government by the people. Perhaps voters don't care so long as they are entertained or misled into feeling like a supportive cast member in a redemption narrative.

  27. the animal here is a Satyr, a combination man and goat with reed pipes to entice young girls. Fits? kinda.

  28. Just following the corporate model. Separation of ownership from management.

  29. All of this is enabled by the press and by columnists, who focus on dysfunction instead of doing the hard work of writing engaging columns about substantive proposals, including, right now, specific proposals from candidates for the office of Mayor.

  30. Disagree. There's plenty of serious stuff in the paper every day. A little entertainment doesn't hurt. But maybe you're right, and this column should have appeared in Arts and Leisure. Regardless, I found it a terrific piece of journalistic commentary.

  31. PALEEZE! Something different already! Like writing about the OUTRAGE of the loss of our 4th ammendment! our loss of liberty and privacy..the OUTRAGE of tyranny that is existing in our midst. While "Rome burns", the NYTimes writes about sexting! What disgusting trivia! What a low blow to our collective intelligence, that you write about Weiner while our rights have been flushed down the collective toilet!

  32. I don't think anyone has forgotten how reckless Bill Clinton's philandering was. But the reason that Weiner is no echo of Clinton is that Clinton got a great deal accomplished, he was, and is brilliant, and was, and remains, immensely popular with the majority of his supporters. The same is true of Hillary Clinton. This is what still drives every Tea Party or neocon Republican insane to this day.

  33. How many aws did Ryan have his name on when the writer backed him for Veep?
    Is attacking the sad and confused wife of Wiener not "guilt by association" Ditto Hillary?
    Is Wiener, awful as he is, as dangerous as the Tea Partiers in the House?

    Sex has always been strange in men of power. Racism and denying food stamps -- these are new. In a century, people will laught atMoica and Wiener. They will be shocked by the Congress the writer backs.

  34. Did Bruno really back Ryan???

  35. Bruno never backed Ryan.

  36. I don't get it - how can any of this be taken seriously? weiner is a sick puppy & what is up with huma to stay with him? he sent pix of his private parts - like a 2 year old who discovers he has some interesting "boy parts" - it is a total embarassement that NYC - the greatest city in the world - would have someone like weiner running - he didn't accomplish anything in congress anyway, but he has a big mouth and maybe some people mistook that for leadership? you wouldn't want weiner to be your kid's teacher, your minister/rabbi, your next door neighbor or son in law - why would anyone want him as mayor?? there can't be that many crazy people like Weiner in NYC??

  37. To me, the most important observation mr. Bruni makes is this sentence: "how thin a field of truly compelling candidates so many races — from the one for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination to the current contest for mayor of New York City — draw." That, to me, is the real danger to a vibrant democracy; people who could really make a contribution are no longer willing to enter politics or government. Fortunately, there is this one very bright spot: the president.

  38. It's a total freak show. A freak show of meaningless people who barely exist except for their noise.

  39. Why does the extraordinary competence of Huma Abedin never get mentioned? I was the picture editor for LIVING HISTORY and IT TAKES A VILLAGE and I was truly exhilarated by what a sublime colleague she is at all times. Hillary Clinton & I & everyone whoever worked with her treasure her genius for organization and her infinite patience for getting things done properly. After having spent 15 years making books at the Library of Congress where gross incompetence on every level has destroyed that great institution for generations to come, every minute spent with Huma reminded me of how rare professionalism has become in our tawdry, self-serving world. As far as I am concerned, her personal life is her business. If she were a man would her remarkable, hard-earned achievements & accolades be treated as the results of networking?

  40. I don't agree - it gets mentioned plenty but your post clarifies to me why people like her so much. Thank you - it wasn't clear before.

    If she's the reason her clown and dirty raincoat husband (tawdry and self serving - your words) is still running for office then it's actually a bad thing. He's not fit to run a McDonald's - as others have said - although it might be good for him to have a real job.

    They ought to both go away.

  41. "...extraordinary competence of Huma Abedin..." Surely, you jest (and, yes, I am calling you "Surely") She joins the ranks of one of the most incompetent wives to stay with a lying, deceitful spouse. But your comment was valuable in that it made me laugh at its ludicrousness. Everyone needs a good laugh from time-to-time. Or did you just misspell "incompetence?"

  42. How would we know this? Aren't those the kinds of details you would get for a job reference?

    BTW Hillary doesn't want us to know this - (I've also heard Huma is an excellent personal assistant) - I would think that Hillary doesn't want to lose Huma. (Maybe she does now.)

    There are incompetents everywhere - especially in government. There are some really good, competent people, too--many of them who could never hope for a salary more than 80K. Why should Huma be making a half million dollars a year? What exactly is so valuable? (That's rhetorical. I know the Times readers have the answer to that.)

    She's a personal assistant! What strategic information does she have?

    These are the sorts of economic distortions that make those of us sweating to make the 100k unable to afford a decent house. And then the lazy media calls us "rich".

    This country is screwed up. Nathan the Expat (in his comments above) said it all.

  43. Hopefully, soon, no more Weiner. Please, god! No more Weiner.

  44. The graphic accompanying Mr. Bruni's column is symbolic -- but of what ?

    We can project our thoughts onto the image. Is it a flag of truce or surrender ?
    Dirty laundry aired in public view ? A willful flaunting ? A twitter avatar ?

    It may be all of the above in multi-layered complexity.

    Only one thing is certain: the uncertainty of Mr. Weiner's future as a servant of the
    people.

  45. Please, give Weiner a break. You gotta judge him based on his ideas for NYC, not on his sexting with strange women on the internet.

    Clinton, people say, was more than an OK president... despite his manifest sexing, everywhere he was, all the time, all over the place. Because, at the end of the day, people said, hey, sex is... well, just sex.

    Weiner did bad, for sure. But, at the end of the day, what he did was sexting... which has gotta be about 100x less of a transgression than outright sexing, right? C'mon, please... let's agree.

    Also, if you admire Hillary for standing by her man (like Tammy Wynette sang), you gotta give it up for Huma. Of course, if you think Hillary was a fool, than you're allowed to dis Huma.

  46. Excellent column. The subspecies of politician as narcissistic noisemaker is first-rate coinage and ought to be extensively applied—starting with Darrell Issa. The metric "what has he accomplished?" is an acid test. There are many others, but this is too early in the morning to think about it.

  47. I don't know which is more amazing:
    Weiner's serial cyber escapades.
    Weiner's total divorce from reality.
    Weiner's belief that somehow voters will get over his slimy lies.
    I wonder about his wife. When something like this happens once, you can hope that it was a weird moment in time and try to move on. When your spouse repeats the behavior, and simultaneously invites greater scrutiny by running for the second largest bully pulpit in America, you have to wonder.
    Sometimes we give people credit for being good things based on the idea that they have been dealt a bad hand.
    This lady married this screwball and now stands by him once, twice, three times.
    Maybe she is not the innocent victim that so many other wives have been cast toward.
    Cynicism abounds in politics today. It seems to me that this couple has plenty of denial and cynicism to go around.

  48. The real-life story is about the massive money rewards and perks that Hillary arranged for her closest aid. This more about Hillary & Huma than the 2 over-the-top , overtestosteroned and irresponsible men.

  49. What is discouraging is the lack of statesmen or women. We have these low level characters running around asking to be elected to make noise. When we got through with the Republican primaries many of us decided on none of the above, and the same goes with this race. Probably the one who has a natural constituency has the best chance.

  50. At this stage Weiner's peccadilloes and all the pyschobabble regarding spousal relationships is a diversion. The real issue is Huma's sweetheart deals with the State Department and Teneo Holdings and the level of corruption in the current political system they expose. Let's look at the numbers. A non too difficult Google search indicates Huma is getting a US$135,000 salary from the State Department and US$ 355,000 per year from Teneo Holdings "an independent advisory firm that offers strategic communications, investment banking, business intelligence and restructuring services"? What exactly other than her connection to the Clintons merits this kind of salary, what does Teneo indicate she can provide for their clients, and what does it say about how corrupt the system has become that people now don't even have to wait till they leave government service before they start cashing in on their network? And let's not even begin talking about the luxury Manhattan apartment being provided by a Clinton donor. Do they pay taxes on this benefit? Why can this person remain anonymous while clearly due for some serious quid pro quo for their "generosity". What has happened to the US political system? I'm not talking Democrat or Republican here. I'm talking about the whole fetid putrid system that has metastasised around the political and financial systems feeding this tumour that is devouring our country. And why are journalists so terrified of aggressively going after the real story?

  51. You not only got it, but your comment should be on the front page of every newspaper in America.

    This is a story about corruption with sex as the side issue - even if the sex started the corruption.

  52. Well said.

    It is also devouring our tax base and our commons. It has gotten to the point where the there is not enough to go around and these sycophants are becoming more in our face about who they are and their lies about who is really robbing taxpayers coffers.

  53. Pornography: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.

    So then politics is pornography and it gives rise to people like Weiner who are addicted to the ego titillation, be it cameras or compliant women

  54. Can we please, please, please, stop wasting editorial space on this guy? There are too many really important issues to deal with. Let's move on. The voters have.

  55. We hope.

  56. I can't believe Huma Abedin sticks with him - most women would be in a lawyer's office preparing divorce papers. I rather suspect that she loves power as much as he does and that is why she stays. There really isn't another satisfactory explanation. After he loses the Mayoral race, I wonder what his next public exhibition will be?

  57. But how does he increase her political cachet? Career wise, she'd be better off without him. He's a liability. An embarrassing liability.

  58. Huma sticks with him for the same reason Hilary stuck with Bill. Remember,
    Huma works for Hilary, so there is a second reason.

  59. When did voters turn into Jesus - dispensers of redemption for politicians gone bad? We've been through a lot. Four decades of a decline in jobs, income, infrastructure, pensions, social mobility, and culture. We need competence and caring in our politicians. Why do we continue to vote for the worst among them?

  60. Images of politicians doing wrong have been around for a long time. Remember in 1979 the ABSCAM investigation revealed Congressmen stuffing money into their pants. Then in 1990, videotape of Washington, DC Mayor Marion Barry handling a crack pipe was released by the Bush DOJ.

    Today, the Internet allows people to view sensational images of another politician. Only, the politician wasn't doing anything criminal, and the images were never meant to be public. Just adults sharing texts and pictures privately. Let's not blame the politician because the public wants to see and because the media can contort themselves into a justification for publishing.

    Look and read if you choose, but it was all private and legal and the politician's wife accepts his explanation.

  61. Not really adults sharing pictures privately. In at least some cases, the women did not expect to receive pictures of Carlos Danger's genitals. More like exhibitionism than mutual sexting.

    I don't care about his wife. Their relationship is totally up to them. But I do care about mayors and other public leaders. Wiener must have known he'd get caught -- or else he's an idiot -- and the thought of the mayor of NYC happily sexting away is creepy. Surely we can do better. And surely mere legality is a pretty low bar.

  62. Now, that's funny. He puts the "images" on the internet, and you say they were never meant to be public? Perhaps you can review your comment and see how absolutely silly it is. Or maybe you should try to gain a better understanding of the internet.

  63. Your reply is interesting, says volumes about modern concepts of right and wrong. You seem to feel that anything that is legal is OK--not so! (I am speaking not as a religionist, but as an affirmed secularist who believes in, hopes for, a few good absolutes to live by).

    There is a huge gap between legality and morality, between what a person can get away with without formal punishment and what he cannot get away with without self-punishment, superego involvement (or at least the good sense to be embarrassed by some things). There is a difference: not everything that is legal is ethical and moral. Should we care? Yes, ethical and moral people should care. Sure, Weiner is within his legal rights to do these things; probably most of us don't care--and don't want to know-- what size, shape, or color his genitalia are. However, we do, and should, care about fixations and egos and truthful telling. We expect his kind of behavior from a teenager struggling to find a sexual identity, not from a grown man who should have found it decades ago.

  64. Bill Clinton's "philandering" was the normal response of an adult male. What male would dare throw that first stone in such an incident?

    Weiner, however, displayed the tacky behavior of an adolescent who just discovered that he had hormones and wants to tell the world how "unique" he is.

  65. Pardon me, but philandering is not a normal, boys will be boys response. It is a gross abuse of trust.

  66. Nah. Bill Clinton was simply lucky that Al Gore hadn't invented th Internet yet.

  67. Exactly! There is a major difference between cheating on your spouse and exposing yourself to strangers. The former isn't good behavior, but the latter is perverse.

  68. This crass trashing of Huma Abedin is disgusting and uncalled for. It's also disingenuous for the author to pretend he doesn't know how the game is played here in Washington. It's about access, certainly, but Ms. Abedin was an invaluable part of Hillary Clinton's team hen she was SecState, and to state that it was all about sweetheart deals based on nothing in return is simply gauche. Ms. Abedin is only a small part of this story, and to see her repeatedly trashed for staying with Wiener (for now) is just tasteless. And as for those "lucrative sidelines," what do you think people *do* when they leave the State Department?

  69. I take your point about Huma, but please, you must forgive us if we aren't thrilled with what people *do* when they leave the State Department. The money-grubbing hopping onto the gravy train is a revolting sight and does not seem to be in the best interests of anyone but the person collecting the paycheck, however wonderful her/his previous work was.

  70. I wouldn't go so far as to trash Huma,
    but she has certainly lost my respect, Big Time.

  71. Ye gads. Aren't there any grownups left in this country?

  72. Thank you, Mr. Bruni, for pointing out the hollowness and emptiness behind the bluster of both Mr. Weiner and Senator Cruz. Another fine writer, Ben Franklin, observed long ago, "It's hard to make an empty sack stand upright." Thank you again for pointing out these two present day empty sacks.

  73. Weiner's communications director did not call Nuzzi "oversexed", she called her the c-word. Moran also disparaged the 20-year old student's work habits, promised to sue her, and threatened that she would never be able to get a job in this town again. This isn't a fable contrasting virtue and opportunism, it is the perfect confluence of hyper-ego and extreme incompetence.

  74. Shame [noun]

    1. The painful feeling one used to get upon realizing that one had done something immoral, dishonorable or ridiculous. (NOTE: Now regarded as archaic, this once common human emotion has not been felt by anyone since at least 1980, AD.)

    See also: "Regret".

  75. 1980 means you are referring to Reagan voters, no? A charming twist.

  76. I wish everyone would stop saying Weiner in the same breath as Spitzer, Clinton, and any man who has normal sexual encounters with women other than their wives. Weiner is a sicko - he is perverted and a new day flasher. He's no better than Sandusky in his sickness. Why his wife doesn't leave him I'll never understand. Extramarital sex is one thing; Weiner's perversion is another. He's disgusting.

  77. Mimi, it's not only disgusting, it's just plain stupid and juvenile.

  78. All three men showed a lack of judgment and a willingness to betray those closest to them.

  79. Being generally disgusted with the quality of our politicians, I remember having a discussion years ago at the office about what kind of people go into politics. We got into a chicken-or-egg debate.

    Is it a self-selection problem, where self-seeking, egotistical, perhaps sociopathic individuals (especially men) choose to be politicians for self-serving reasons?

    OR

    Does becoming a politician foster the above characteristics?

    One guy said to us that if we were so critical of the kind of people politicians are, then we should run for office. Everyone said "oh no, no, no, not me; who would want to be a politician!" He responded "Precisely--get my point?"

    That was more than a decade ago. Now the caliber of men going into politics is even worse for several reasons.

    1. It's all about ME: Thanks to media hype, PR, & political ads, the emphasis is more than ever on personality & whom voters want to have a beer with, not accomplishment, competence, & political skills devoted to improving the country/state/locality.

    2. Toxic political environment: How many competent politicians left politics because they can't stand their colleagues & the corruption and duplicity required of politicians in today's Citizens United & tea party political environment?

    So if you are disgusted with the political cesspool & low caliber of politicians, how about running for office?

    Let's also figure out why competent people would have such a difficult time running for office, & fix that.

  80. Funny, the first time then Representative Anthony Weiner came to my attention was two years ago, in February 2011, when he was on a morality crusade self-righteously condemning and demanding the removal of Frederick MacMonnies fountain sculpture “Triumph of Civic Virtue” from Kew Gardens because it was "sexist."

    Next I knew he was sexting pictures of his crotch to women cross-country.

    As the world turns....

    BTW, whatever did happen with that fountain?

  81. On second thought, I wonder if what Weiner was really objecting to was the idea of "Civic Virtue"?

  82. To use an analogy of the mentality of criminals: it is not Anthony Weiner’s wrongful acts or his behaviour or even his impact on others that he is in any way concerned about. Like the high-wire act, he will continue with his prurient behaviour as long as he is moving along on his high-wire regardless how many people around him are damaged or if his actions are damaging his own career along the way. But as in the mentality of criminals who will repeatedly take risks and repeat his actions for the thrills and boost to his distorted sense of values or his distorted ego, it is being caught that he fears the most !!!

    I believe that Anthony Weiner did not even have it on his radar screen or even in any of his potential scenarios of possible outcomes that he would be caught !!!

    I believe he was convinced that although he was living two lives, one as the mayoralty candidate and the other as that of the thrill-seeking deviant of prurient behaviour, that one would affect the other.

    Regardless of his motives, I believe that Anthony Weiner was convinced that he could continue to get away with it and not face any consequences.

  83. The best writing about and understanding and explanation of the Weiner debacle I've seen so far.

  84. We need people, voters, who will make responsible choices and not get carried away with whatever allure Weiner offered to New Yorkers after his first escapade. Everyone knew this guy was a pervert. How could he be allowed a second chance.

  85. It continues being brought up, including in this well written piece, that Weiner "is sick and needs help." I keep wondering then, why he continues being trashed. His behavior is undoubtedly obnoxious and glaringly reckless, but think about it, who in their right mind, especially in public office, would email pictures of varying angles of their genitalia to young women strangers which first required self portraits before the incredible deed could even be accomplished.

    Mind problems don't show up as a common disease, or even a serious one, that can be detected and treated with surgery or antibiotics. They reveal themselves, instead, in how we think and especially in what we do, in behavior. And regarding Bill Clinton, when caught, his response seemed more or less conscious and "normal." That made what he did seem problematic, but not sick, so to speak. When Weiner was caught, not so much. The man apparently needs professional help and for the sake of himself and his family hopefully he sooner or later will realize it.

  86. Having been in politics for many years, I observed a rule of thumb that politicians followed: You can do whatever you want (providing it wasn't illegal) but if it created a public scandal, you resigned. The first person I know to challenge that was, of course, Bill Clinton and his Monica moments. Now Anthony Weiner thinks that he can tough it out despite behavior that in another era would have labeled him a "pervert" and a "degenerate" . When I read about him I feel like "a bottle being filled with warm, dirty water," and this is the man who will represent America's pre eminent city to the world? A man sick enough to display his genitals on the internet
    will be greeting world leaders coming to NYC? Is there no one who can rid us of this twisted mind and his self seeking supporters? Have we ourselves become so sick that we cannot recognize how heinous his campaign is?

  87. In my first years in retirement in Sweden my first thought as concerned leading political figures was that they were rather boring. The most sensational thing one of them might do was use a government credit card to pay for some candy - I am not kidding, it was of course a woman, Mona Sahlin.

    Now I think differently. The not so boring catastrophe cases, Weiner being the latest, keep government from governing, take up all the time of New York Times columnists, and have most of my favorite NYT Verifieds wasting there time writing comments.

    Is there any hope? I do not think so.

    Larry Lundgren Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com

  88. It's simple, Mr. Weiner and his campaign spokesperson, Ms. Morgan, are ready for TMZ and not ready for prime time! They are both sad examples of how our elected officials and or their spokespersons should not act and not behave.

    And it finally appears that the NYC voters have gotten the message that Mr. Weiner is not only unfit for public office, he is simply unqualified to be Mayor of New York or any other municipality for that fact!

    Further, Ms. Morgan's ire may be understandable but the crude, foul, unprofessional way she expressed it to a subordinate is inexcusable in a campaign or in public or private sector employment. The fact that she did not quit along with Mr. Weiner's campaign manager, and is still working for Mr. Weiner, shows much about her character and none of it is good.

    I still believe that elected officials are public servants and believe as did President John Kennedy that public service is a noble and honorable cause.

    It's just that Mr. Weiner is unfit for elected office and Ms. Morgan is a bad example of a public servant.

  89. A few things.

    Ms. Morgan didn’t say what she said directly to her subordinate, Ms. Nuzzi. She said it ‘about’ Ms. Nuzzi… and when doing so believed it was “off the record”. Her believing that it was off the record showcases her naiveté and that she’s not the brightest bulb in the pack. Nuzzi had trashed Morgan… so Morgan responded by trashing Nuzzi. Quite the cat fight.

    RE Kennedy and “public service”. It has a nice and ’quaint’ sound to it. But I stopped buying into that concept/meme in my late teens. It’s not about “service” and nobility and honor… it’s about “public power”. When a pol tells me that they want to ‘serve’ the public, I know that they’re lying. They’re telling me, as if I was and inexperienced child, what they believe that I want to hear. The only thing that they accomplish with me, is to irk me and turn me off.

    You say: “Ms. Morgan is a bad example of a public servant.”

    Morgan isn’t a public servant (thankfully). She’s a hired gun for the Weiner campaign, his communications director.

    The NYT female readership should link to the link that Bruni has provided, (a raft of sexist slurs) to get a definitive idea of just how effectively this woman ‘communicates’. I hate to revert to youthful short-speak, but I’m LOL.

  90. Its funny you mention John Kennedy because he actually had numerous real affairs with women unlike Anthony Weiner. Obviously Kennedy was still a very good president so why is it assumed Weiner couldn't be a good mayor of NYC? Many in the media like talking about Weiner and his sexting day after day after day only because they think it will help their ratings. Isn't that right Chris Matthews?

  91. Although times were different when JFK was president, his affairs were a personal matter between him and his wife and family and he didn't lie to his constituents as Mr. Weiner has done now twice. Also when you examine Mr. Weiner's record in Congress, it won't take long because he did little to distinguish himself as a Congressman, and has offered little about why NYC voters would want him as their mayor.

    As for Ms. Morgan, she was in fact a public servant for many years and should know better than to talk to or about a subordinate in the crass, foul manner that she did. And she is now working for the campaign as spokesperson and if Mr. Weiner should win she would probably be back employed as a public servant in Mr. Weiner's administration.

    Simply, both are embarrassments!

  92. Bill Clinton had sex and then denied it to the country betraying the woman he had sex with. He ran home during a campaign to execute someone who didn't understand what was happening in order to win an election.He ends welfare as we" know it thus intensifying the pain and misery of countless people. This also included the intensification of scrutiny on the sex lives of women getting benefits. Hilary Clinton get all puffy about Bradley Manning exposing horrible things that she was very much a part of. That sadly is who they are as public figures. More than all this other nonsense that Frank writes about and in a sense obscures.

  93. The story of compelling candidates is victim of the media's death embrace with the likes of Weiner and Cruz . The compelling candidates get no ink, the disgraceful ones all, and the minor slip ups exploded into controversy. Thank you media.

  94. Weiner should not be faulted because he was eager for cameras and microphones. We put politicians on our money. We carve their faces into mountains. We honor them with national holidays. We allow them to feed our dreams rather than demand that they solve the problems of common America. America wants ice cream. Weiner gives it. Let's fix that.

  95. Hey, Frank, overall I like your thinking, but you seem to be piling on a bit when it comes to Olivia Nuzzi. I don't know anything about her other than what I read in your column, but I don't see why you attack her motivations so harshly. I certainly don't know, but is it possible that wanting to let the voters know more about Weiner and his campaign played a role in her decision to go public? Maybe she deserves a small slice of benefit of the doubt.

  96. Bruni provided a couple of links, one in the 5th paragraph, and one in the 6th. If you haven't accessed them, you might do so in order to get a clearer picture of Nuzzi and Morgan... and how the two of them 'interfaced'.

  97. Weiner's communication director Barbara Morgan certainly did a good job communicating how seriously his campaign should be taken.

  98. 1. The ratio of statesmen to politicians in a nation is abt. one to one million - optimistic estimate.

    2. Politicians always attract sycophants of their phylum.

    3. In any nation the number of individuals of true excellence is roughly equal to the cubic root of the population; for the U.S.A. (population ~ 319'000'000) that means ~
    685 citizens. - Please note that the percentage (= 100 times cubic root of n divided by n) decreases sharply with the increase in population.

    So, Mr. Bruni, I am afraid you did not tell us anything new.

  99. "Weiner’s is the story of image management at its most desperate and cynical. Where candidates used to kiss babies, they now trot out their own, and he and Abedin showcased their infant son in People magazine and then The New York Times Magazine,"

    If it's "desperate and cynical" image management, why would the NY Times Magazine be a willing accomplice?

  100. Brilliant column. And thank you for letting us know -- out here in the rest of the country, where Weiner's pit bull advocacy was always welcome on cable TV when he was a US Rep -- that he did nothing in Congress. Nothing. I had no idea.

    He is truly made for our age. Good Lord.

  101. Firstly, while Weiner no doubt was no doubt "part of a subspecies of lawmakers who are really newsmakers," to compare him to the likes of Ted Cruz is ludicrous, at best.

    Cruz and his minions threaten to close down the government and ruin it's full faith and credit. Weiner was at his loudest trying to get passed the Zadroga Bill which was designed - a little too weakly for me - to help first responders and others made ill due to 9/11. When Weiner yelled he did so for the betterment of his community - and the nation via his support of a single-payer health insurance system - not for tearing them down.

    Secondly, yes, the story of Weiner's internet escapades is "the story of superficiality trumping substance," but it's the former part of that equation that's been the focus of local media.

    With rare exception, there is next to nothing about the policy stances of the candidates, but wall-to-wall coverage one candidate's picture sending and rather crude sexual banter. Most could quote verbatim Barbara Morgan's rant about Olivia Nuzzi, but couldn't answer a question vis a vis, say, Bill DiBlasio's stance on elementary school curricula or Joe Lhota's plans for the NYPD.

    The voters get their news from somewhere and its from the someones within that it's all Weiner, all the time.

  102. It is the epitome of Clintonian ways coming full circle. Oops.

  103. In the '90s I had Bill Clinton to thank for teaching my then-8th grade son about oral sex and novel uses of cigars, and for spurring my then-80 year old mother to ask me "What is phone sex?" Oy vey! Now I have my young grandson asking me why Elliott Spitzer would pay $5,000 for one night of sex and why Anthony Weiner is sexting his naked parts to women he's never met. Don't these men realize the huge impact they have on impressionable young boys?

    Hillary knew full well Bill was a chronic philandering sexual time bomb yet enabled his lies and promoted his presidential campaigns due to her her own thirst for power and need for fame. Huma seems to be doing the same thing. A pox on both of them -- give me Jenny Sanford any day!

  104. and what has your grandson asked about the "appalachian trail? or, has he asked "is it true if you rape a girl she can't get pregnant?" or, "grandma, what was that florida congressman doing with those young pages, anyway?"

  105. Some people rise by sin and fall by virtue- William Shakesphere

  106. If only Mr. Bruni had been this critical-minded when he was in the tank for George W. Bush in 2000.

  107. I actually feel sorry for the people of New York. Can't you somehow give Michael another 4 years!

  108. As bizarrely fascinating as Weiner's saga is, and as intriguing as the idea is that his staff is an extension of his character, what we really ought to be wondering is whether he's an outlier.

    Mr. Bruni, you make the connections between Weiner and, among others, Bill Clinton and Ted Cruz, but how prevalent are these destructive narcissists among our elected officials? Is the "thin field" of candidates in races due to the (mis)perception that only borderline sociopaths run for office? If so, we're not doing ourselves any favors by keeping Weiner in the spotlight, reinforcing that (mis)perception.

    Or are our priorities as voters, expressed by what we choose to focus on during campaigns, so fouled up that we're truly getting the candidates we deserve?

  109. Anthony Weiner is compensating for a lack of.....whatever. Who cares? The man is an insignificant political moron. Does he even have a constituency beyond his bevy of interns? Highly unlikely.

    He is a joke with a never ending punch line...like the banana -orange knock-knock joke. You just want it to end already.

    Weiner is unelectable. Not because he's a moron. Not because he has bad ideas. Not even because he's an exhibitionist. He unelectable because he cannot be trusted.

    When he said he was in rehab and was reformed, everyone wanted to believe him. They wanted to believe he'd turned over a new fig leaf. But when the text messages came out and were dated a year _after_ his resignation from Congress, well, feh! It was over.

    Weiner has broken the one unbreakable rule: don't get caught a second time. He's toast. And he knows it.

    http://wifelyperson.blogspot.com/

  110. Who said: "I don't like political jokes. There are too many of them in Washington already."
    And not just Washington.

  111. It was Will Rogers.

  112. C'mon -- all this fuss about Anthony Weiner & his idiot sexting is rubbish. Piffle. Who cares? How about the monsters who take food stamps from children? Take millions in meals for seniors? Now *they* should have to quit *their* races.

    You may have to cover this bilgewater, but you don't have to fall for the prissy hype.

    It would be fabulous to have New York as a test single-payer place. That would change lives and history. And maybe Weiner would get *that* done.

    C'mon . .

  113. He may not be guilty of fraud, but Weiner has shown a reckless lack of judgment, which is troubling in a candidate.

  114. I recall decades ago having an American History teacher--this is high school--who had us believing that Congress was a body of men--yes, he said men--who debated issues as gentleman and who, in the end, wrote laws that should benefit the people they served. And you know what, he was actually talking about the United States. Back then. This is an excellent column because it focuses upon what too many of us miss: that Congress is not about debating issues. It is about what? Nothing apparently. Certainly not about governing. Our country is rapidly falling apart. The Rise and Fall of the United States. That's the book title for someone to use.

  115. It is "Decline and Fall" as in The Decline and Fall of Ancient Rome by Edward Gibbons.

  116. Anthony did not break any laws. I believe this is covered by our freedom of speech or expression. He didn't commit adultery. OK, so fine.

    My problem is that one expects a man in a new marriage with a new child that this would have an effect on ones character, for the better. At least for a time, if short. That did not happen. I seem to remember when this first came up that he went into total denial. Only to have to walk it all back and suffer the humiliation accompanying his later acknowledgement. Then the loss of a job he really loved. So again, you would think this would have an effect on his character. Wrong again.

    He is a fighter. But also a glutton for punishment!

  117. A glutton, yes. For punishment? No, not yet, not nearly enough.

  118. I'm so glad you emphasized the coarseness of Weiner's activities. The vulgarity that is rampant on TV and the internet maybe impossible to eliminate but there is now reason we have to reward it in our politicians. I'm glad I left New York when Bloomberg was running the show with an admirable level of dignity. Regardless of my views on Bloomberg's particular positions I will miss his seriousness of purpose. This stands in stark contrast to Weiner's immaturity.

  119. The only way Weiner will go away is if the media stops following him around. Stop reporting on him, writing stories about him -- just stop!

  120. Weird party right? Roger Cohn was interviewing Weiner who kept insisting the West Bank wasn't occupied, Cohn kept on trying to get clarification, Weiner just kept repeating himself, like a broken doll. And he with a Saudi wife, faustian bargains all around, the Clintons just help flavor the mix.

  121. "It's a short line from Weiner to Ted Cruz, ..." Really? It must be such an easy life when you find confirmation of your world view in everything.

  122. Sorry Ambrose but I totally get what Frank is saying here. Attention whores like Cruz and Weiner are pretty easy to spot. They come in all stripes and are
    certainly in both political parties (obviously)

  123. Well, I get why Hillary would stay with Bill...you know, him being President and all....
    But since your article seems to be saying that Huma has more "power" than Weiner, why is she staying with him??? There is NO comparison with the Hillary/Bill situation.
    With her power, looks, and age, she can surely grab a good suitor in no time to help her raise her child and go on to have lovely kids with him, have a happy home, and no weird husband with strange habits.
    Why is it that the woman who "have it all" never seem to realize it???

  124. Why can't she just stand on her own, raise her child and get on with her life? Why do we still insist that women need a man to complete them?

  125. Thanks to this dufus, and cookies from Yahoo, my spam inbox has been flooded with solicitations to purchase presumably black market Viagra and Cialis, enlargement surgery, and email from some imaginary chick named Adrianna (who claims to miss me).

    All this because I made the mistake of googling "Weiner scandal" when the first round of the story broke.

  126. You just happen to be the first contributor at 8:55 am PDT when I accessed the Times.

    I have the same problem with spam, getting the same stuff. And I NEVER googled anything about Weiner. Go figure.

    Bruni is generally quite good but sometimes he provides TMI (too much info) about non-entities like Weiner's staffers.

  127. Ben Wiseman's illustration of the man's Y-front briefs on a pole (or a flag standard?) is the picture worth a thousand words about the Weiner Saga, The Weiner Un-Candidacy, the TotenTanz of Anthony Weiner. Call it what you will. When a man is stewed in arrogance, hubris, lying and chutzpah, his woman is not obliged to stand by her man like Clara Petacci stood by Mussolini till they were both hoist by their petards onto lampposts and Kingdom Come. Yes, this is an abysmal freak show and a fable of our times - like Aesop's frog who puffed himself up so arrogantly -so beyond the limits of his body and froggy mind - that he exploded. Yes, the political zeitgeist in New York City is a freak show of vulgarity, unseemliness, softcore porno and sexting on the dreadful little handheld devices that one of these days will be gone with the wind. Freakshows, sideshows went out with Sweet Caporals, but they're back in vogue today in the biggest political olla podrida in New York's unsavory campaign for the Mayoralty. Wait till 2016 and we'll see another freakshow in American politics.

  128. A brilliant column Mr Bruni. With one small error (as I understand it). Huma didn't distance herself from the People Magazine Baby exploit because she didn't want to be seen, she was told to by PR handlers. Reminds me of that hilarious scene in Pink Flamingos where the flasher adds to his park habit by making his wife wait in the car. I propose a new term for the likes of her: crib climbers.

  129. Thanks for this.

    An observation:

    In politics, narcissists make noise, and real menschen make the world a better place. Correspondingly, real men make love, while adolescents show off their crotches.

    Anthony Weiner isn't enough of a grown-up to run this city.

  130. It is the way we live now. We now have politicians and budding politicians who run for office as political entrepreneurs with the help of MSM (Fox, MNBC, politico, cable shows of various varieties) to make money, not to govern and definitely not for public service or to help the average American. It is purely a means for them to make the loudest noise in front of microphones often about nothing; write books and make plenty of money. Sarah Palin and her elks are fine examples.

    Anthony Weiner is the latest example of this breed. If you notice, most members of Congress are really not there to compromise, and led the country, they are there to throw enough bombs, gain name recognition, run for higher office and then retire as lobbyists to make even more money while preaching the need for small government, free enterprise and only if the poor and the minorities would pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

    Like some of our citizens, they too make loud noises as Tea Partiers admonishing the government, especially the socialist administration of President Obama whilst benefiting from over generous veteran's compensation, Medicare and govt. pension. Similarly, our business elites like the Koch brothers talk of big government but have plenty of lobbyists ensuring that the government rules are in their favor to drive off the competition and obtain special benefits. The US is now one big reality show. No need to watch TV, you can watch our politicians and business leaders live.

  131. This column loses all claims to be considered a serious analysis of contemporary politics at the point that Anthony Weiner is compared to "Newt Gingrich, Eliot Spitzer and, yes, Bill Clinton." Although those three have shown themselves to be deeply flawed human beings, each one has proven himself over time to be a substantive and respected force in the workings of our democracy. Weiner, in stunning contrast, is nothing more than a superficial and self-serving narcissist who has nothing to offer his constituency other than lewd photographs of what he perceives to be his sole impressive feature.

  132. Tune in tomorrow for another exciting chapter in the Adventures of Carlos Danger!

    The Weiner saga is beyond pathetic. When he first announced his candidacy for mayor I was willing to cut the guy some slack. Enough is enough. Ed Koch, Abe Beame, John Lindsay, Robert Wagner, Fiorello LaGuardia - all of these men were capable at times of bad judgement. None of them made a career of it.

    It's time for Anthony Weiner to quietly fold up the tent and go home. He will still be able to have a very happy life - just not as a public figure.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan

  133. Narcissistic personality disorder. Enough said.

  134. Great article Frank, you really have an excellent way of putting a news story into words. .... to follow up about thin candidates, it would not surprise me to see this "freak" still get elected as your new Mayor.... so sad. Sarah Palin redux.

  135. If your married son were doing what Anthony Weiner did/does, would you say "It's a private matter?" Or would you immediately reach out and help him seek therapy out of true, compassionate concern for his mental health? And that of your daughter-in-law? And that of your grandson? This is not politicians-being-politicians. This is a sickness, manifesting itself in inappropriate and hurtful behavior affecting his family. Anyone close to this man who is not seeing this and not doing a major intervention is missing some pretty obvious signs.

  136. The media might wish to examine their complicity in all this. Why did a rude loudmouth like Mr Weiner get so much TV exposure? Why did the Times Magazine allow itself to run a puff piece about the Weiners just before he announced his candidacy for Mayor?

  137. You write: "It’s the story of superficiality trumping substance, of fame rather than accomplishment being the aim of too many people in politics these days." Too true, but add to that the fact that Weiner and many such politicians apparently cannot find other gainful, permanent employment and depend on the public trough for their income. The you-should-pardon-the-expression 'representatives' or prostitutes in Washington and in the state legislatures around the country are always running, and therefore, must mouth whatever garbage they think the public wants to hear in order to get reelected.

    Term limits, term limits, term limits, term limits, term limits, term limits! And even though Boomberg is far and away a better person than the current crop of vacuous whistlebrains running for mayor, he should not have been allowed a third term.

    Where does a politician like Weiner acquire the narcissism and the shamlessness to behave the way they do? Read your colleague Dowd's silly piece on the deeply superficial Quinn in today's NYT. Where do these people come from?

  138. Yes, Bill Clinton did some despicable and stupid things ... but he didn't do them alone! The women involved must bear some responsibility, if only because they never learned the word "no". And more importantly, Clinton actually accomplished many good things for our country and our economy (as did many other prominent people who have "sinned"). Weiner hasn't done anything good that I can see.

  139. Frank, et al, and your fellow NYT opinionators and journalists:

    After reading many of these comments it seems to me the message is that you in the media are significantly at fault for the choices you make in who to give attention to.

    Forget Weiner! Please just ignore this man, if only for his wife's sake. Please do a better job covering the people in power who benefit themselves and their friends.

    For example, from today's NYT article on the man who went to Belgium to get a hip
    replaced for about 90% less than what US hospitals charge and well down in that article the fact that the companies that make these devices collude to keep prices fixed, and how they are assisted by their payments to various politicians and the FDA.
    This is news that effects many people.

    Weiner and Cruz are news in their own minds alone.

  140. It is, as suggested here, condemnation of the culture as a whole. We are vacuous, power-driven, hungry for attention, borderline insane and vacuous. The vacuous is the problem. And Weiner just leads the pack, his ugliness the extreme outward evidence of the baggage we're all carrying around. And Hillary shouldn't be let off the hook. She provided the model for Abedin to stick with a flasher and a jerk. I remember when Bill Clinton was trying to weasel out of his indiscretions, remarking to my son, "How can she abide this!" and my son, replied, "Oh mom, get real. She's got everything she wants." Well, just about. But the real enigma and the question we need to all ponder deeply is this vast inner emptiness that feeds on an endless craving for power, the limelight, influence, being seen. Obviously, we can't stand ourselves and the best way to evade that truth is to turn it on its head. Amuse ourselves and fool ourselves. It won't end until we get a new culture and a whole new way of making peace with ourselves in the world.

  141. Well presented, but ... detracting from your article is your effort to tie in Senator Cruz here - a freshman Senator with one year in office and a philosophy that is resounding with others both inside and outside the Senate and one that is closely matched to the principles on which he conducted his campaign.

    Senator Cruz is NOT identified with this corrupt, cozy, you rub my "back" and I'll rub yours (or hers) that one can identify with Weiner, Spitzer, Filner, Clinton, and yes, several Republicans who have been drummed out of office. Only one of these Republicans, Representative Sanford, seems to match the criteria you describe - a ethically challenged political animal that won't stay away once removed from office. Democrats - however - seem to be popping up everywhere one uncovers a rock.

  142. I'm waiting and waiting for an article that examines the relationship of someone's compulsions and bad judgement in their personal life to the quality of their behavior and judgement in pubic work life. This is what we really need to know.

  143. You added Bill Clinton to your list, but I don't think he belongs there any more than would JFK. Sexual recklessness is one thing, both JFK and Clinton had that in spades, but both of them actually advocated AND PASSED concrete measures. The kind of substance-free exhibitionism that characterizes both Weiner and Cruz (who really cares in the end whether the exhibitionism is sexual or not?) seems a by-product of the last decade (socially, media-wise, and politically).

    Including Clinton in your list also seems to work against your own thesis -- that no one who actually proposes measures that might help society gets any attention these days!

  144. I could not have said it better had I written 35 drafts. It seems to boil down to money in politics and democracy for sale. And the currency most in demand is face time on CNN, Fox, The Daily Show, and the Daily News

  145. Weiner was a terrible congressman, and he was out of politics when he announced his decision to run for mayor. There was never any legitimacy to his candidacy, but the press was there, with cameras and microphones, to give his campaign undeserved credibility. This freak show candidacy is a fabrication of the press.

  146. Politics is show business for ugly people.

  147. Somewhere along the way, We the People began confusing brains with fame,and true depth with bluster--a goal now happily pushed along by FOX and its like. By this description, maybe Snooki could run for mayor of NYC. Surely there are those who would recognize her fine qualities and vote for her!

  148. "It’s a short line from Weiner to Ted Cruz, once you edit out the erotica." This is the central point, I believe. My mom used to say to us kids, "Fools' names and fools' faces are often seen in public places."

  149. Sure Mr, Weiner is displaying a spectacular example of Narcissistic Personality Disorder but choosing the most odious political figure is nearly impossible. With each pathological ignoramus the field erodes and I'm afraid trickles down.
    We would need several committees and then sub-committees to sort through what is most detrimental to our National well being. Citizens United anyone? Vaginal probes? Legalized bribery in all three Govt. branches? Pizza as a school lunch vegetable? Privatizing our food system? Florida "Pain Clinics"? Tax Free Behemoths? Pretending Walmart contributes to Jobs numbers? For profit Healthcare and right on down to destroying young men and women in wars begun without provocation and leaving them in endless VA lines to receive care for their broken minds and bodies.
    Anthony Weiner has had terrible role models and is running with a bad crowd.

  150. I know little about Mr Weiner but I also recall that the accusation that junior members of the congress only "passsed one" piece of legislation is rather common when the rocks start flying. As I recall, the house as well as senate have had seniority rules in which junior members have been long instructed to "sit down and do what you're told and maybe, in 15 years you'll get somewhere." This was often a complaint of individuals who left the house or who ran for other offices.
    Whether a member wrote a piece of legislation is less important than what they voted for, although now , it seems that if you want to know who wrote legislation, you have to go to the big interests and their lawyers, which it affects.

  151. When did the NY Times become a high-toned version of the NY Post with all this unending blather of easily-cranked-out, over-written, discussed-to-death claptrap about political egos and their sex lives? What could possibly be new or helpful in rehashing these tired clichés? Today, Maureen Dowd gives us green toenail polish, and Frank Bruni (a serious and astute observer) skates down this same, well-worn path with a more-insightful retread of the same stuff one can get on TMZ, and with a frayed connection of Weiner to Cruz thrown in for good, but not for enlightening
    measure.

    The City of New York is electing a mayor at one of the most crucial times in its history, and how that mayor guides the city, and with whom that mayor will align his or her power will determine whether this place will continue to become the playground for only the very wealthy, or if it will once again be able to assure a life for the middle class, the working class and the artists and musicians from whom the great fabric of New York was woven.

    Frank, PLEASE get off this popular bandwagon and give us your take on the issues facing the city and the viewpoints that the candidates have on them. That may not be as glamorous, interesting, or scintillating a subject for an article, but it’s what the voters of this city need. It's what your readers need, and if you don’t give it to us, no one will.

  152. What is not considered here is the role of television. Perhaps the French intellectuals are right--sight, one of our senses, now dominates discourse. Weiner, and almost every other politician, knows to play to the camera, where it doesn't matter much what is said--the medium really is the message, as we were told half a century ago. At a minimum we need to get the cameras out of Congress--we need more back room deals. The cameras are as much a part of the dynamic of this do-nothing, know-nothing Congress as the right-wingers are.

  153. I don't live in New York, but it seems to me that so far the Times has done a poor job of covering the mayoral campaign. Who is in the race other than Quinn and Weiner? What are their positions and histories? Do none of them have a good chance? While I am not a citizen I shudder at the thought of reading about Weiner or Quinn in the future Times. They both seem to be terrible. Just as one could pose the question for the nation as a whole, is this the best we can do?

  154. It is a culture of ego above everything else, including their proclaimed fealty to help people if they only get more power. Weiner needs to do volunteer work and be in the trenches long enough to gain humility and get a real record with results. Of course he doesn't think he needs to do this work. Is it something about Congress that leads people to think that because they were granted power temporarily it was all about them and not about the position they were in? OH - and change his and his son's names from Weiner to something else. Names to matter though people can transcend them sometimes a change is helpful - especially for future generations.

  155. As for Huma steering clear of the latest video, aren't those framed wedding photos in the background? Even if Senor Danger cannot manage his self-destruct urges, someone is attempting image management.

  156. "The Bonfire of the Vanities" once seemed so shocking. Now it's but a pale shadow of life in NYC. Monetize everything.

  157. We have real difficult problems in this country---health care, education, jobs, infrastructure, energy policy, etc. They are solvable, or at least manageable if policy makers work at them over a period of time. But we can't solve these problems with lawmakers acting out an HBO series. Although I managed a small organization, I was tired at the end of the day, spent weekends/vacations thinking about the organization, and spent long hours at work trying to make the organization work better. I do not understand where these policy makers ---presidents no less--have all this time to text, to engage in affairs, and for that matter appear on all these TV shows.

  158. Why would anyone want to be close to "the Clintons"? Two hack politicians whose chief accomplishments are their own self-promotions?

    Before all the Democratic partisans jump on this post, let me point out that it's just as bad on the Republican side.

    Cannot people in politics put the national interest first? Of course, different politicians and parties disagree about the national interest and how to advance it, but that is what politics is supposed to be about---arguing and compromising in the national interest. Let the dirty people (whether it is sex, influence peddling, selling votes for contributions or just career ahead of country) find some other way of making a living.

    We citizens can choose not to vote for people with dirt in their past or present.

  159. Today, TV "reality" shows are fable; political freak shows have become reality. This is not good in a culture that actively promotes ever-shortened attention spans, and "reflection" limited to 140 characters. These trends may be good for Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin and the wiener mobile but not for folks who actually try to make sense of all the self-promotional blather drowning us in sound and text bites.

    What really worries me is the glorification of truly atrocious public behavior. We have a Congress of "leaders" that "governs" by mindless obstructing all the portals of governing, political operatives that put their own superficial ambitions over any kind of national need, news outlets that feed us, and themselves feed, upon garish outrage.

    As a nation we are gleefully role-modeling contemptibility. Our children can distinguish between what we tell them we value and what really counts for us. Hypocrisy isn't hard to detect.

    Mr. Bruni used the word "coarse." Of course he did.

  160. What a generation of vipers we have raised.

  161. Weiner is a great example of the worst excesses of our age. The man is the supremely hollow narcissist who only exists in front of a microphone or a TV camera. It's not surprising such a stunted character would attract others with similar limitations. But I also think Huma has gotten off far too easily. Knowing her husband's deep flaws she went in front of a hundred reporters and begged New Yorkers to vote for him. What a selfish, callous thing to try to inflict the Weiner virus on the rest of her fellow New Yorkers. This is not a simple housewife speaking on a whim, but a shrewd, world-class political operative making carefully thought out decisions. They seem like birds of a feather to me.

  162. You forgot that creepy guy in South Carolina that the wise voters of that state recently voted into our Senate.

  163. There is a valid comparison between Wiener and Clinton: Sexual deviate, liar, selfishness. Those words fit both of them. Unfortunately, sufficient numbers of New Yorkers like all three and support them anyway. They fail to see that character does matter. Sexual perversion is not curable. Ignorance of voters is. For the good of New York City let's hope the voters learn.

  164. I'm not sure I agree with the continuous lumping of Eliot Spitzer into the Anthony Weiner saga. Spitzer did what he did, resigned and headed off for a life of rehabilitation. It wasn't exactly a monastery in Tibet, of course. He was all over the political talk shows, even had one of his own. But on those programs, he showed himself to be impressively intelligent, well-informed and capable. He had gotten things done in his time in office, which is one of the constant slams against Weiner.

    You mention the 2012 Republican campaign, an astounding display of what's become of national politics. Not only did the likes of Michelle Bachman and Herman Cain appear on the podiums, they actually led the race at various times. Even Newt Gingrich, the Republican version of Weiner, Spitzer and this fellow Fellner all rolled into one, was the front-runner for a time. I think it demonstrates we need people like Spitzer in our politics. Unless there's more to his story we don't know, let's stop using the Anthony Weiner paddle to spank Eliot Spitzer.

  165. Amen!

  166. Clinton:
    "I did not have sex with that woman."

    Weiner:
    "I did not have text with that woman."

  167. Well said, Frank. The heart of the matter is, like Pogo said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." The reason these creeps even get to first base is because we enable them. We are as much the sicko as them.

  168. Enough about Weiner. He is not worthy of our precious oxygen.

  169. Sorry to see the Daily News mentioned as a "major newspaper." And sorry that Weiner is so encased in his ego that he can't see that it's time to get out and rehabilitate himself. An old Irish proverb says, sort of, a good skedaddle is better than a disastrous stand.

    When I think I understand the prune of life, I discover another wrinkle. In my early years as a voter, I used the party toggle, and watched all the little toggles underneath obey the master command. Then Weiner began his campaign to bring cell phone service to the subways. Did he even use the subway? Did he ever hear of terrorists using cells to explode bombs? Since then, I still used the master toggle, but un-toggled the Weiner.

  170. You neglected to place Hillary in the same class as Weiner, et al. She clearly saw in Bill a way to the top and did not allow his philandering to deter her road to power. She is clearly much smarter than even her protege Huma because she has managed to convince the world that she is just hard working, long suffering woman and wife, effectively hiding the naked drive for power and fame that allowed her to put up with behavior that would drive most women from their husbands.

  171. What is Ms. Abedin carrying in her expensive Louis Vuitton luxury bag? Divorce papers? Baby pictures? An updated resume? A vocabulary textbook for her husband's communications director?

    It is time to stop covering this tawdry story. There is a little child to consider.

  172. So who's left, Frank?

    And do you really believe that anyone you can name isn't actually, in fact, hiding something themselves?

    And, if they're not, might it not be that they lack what it takes to be a "leader?" Or to be human?

    C'mon, Frank, the only difference between those we revile and those we adore is that some get caught and others don't.

    But, now, with the NSA revealing everyone's secrets, maybe we'll end up with no one left to 'dis, except, perhaps, ourselves and our tendency to sit in righteous judgment.

  173. It's sad that the two bad boys, Weiner and Cruz, are sucking all the air out of any adult conversation. They and their ilk are totally without direction, ethics, or any other redeeming quality required of a representative of the people. Power and money, greed and sex, ignorance and sound bites.
    And the media falls for it every time and mistakes personal weakness for news. Half the posters here cry out for coverage of real issues. Like a car wreck, try to look away. It can't be done.

  174. We like to give succinct titles to periods in history, this period we are going thru now will be easy. The Age Of Narcissism - Breaking Bad - Generation Naught- Wasted-
    Arrested Development- The Age of The Loud Mouth- All Hat No Cattle- The Age of The Dollar and on and on. I would like to see the NYT produce series and documentaries that take a deep dive and follow the money that is creating the chaos and empty suits that populate our parallel system of government we now call "Me The People" .

  175. In a culture that enshrines Hilary while condemning Weiner, our bipolar culture is front and center but unwilling to face the mirror. Two sides of the same coin merge in hubris, as both are deniers of truth and unwilling to accept responsibility for any and all involvement in scandal and disaster, while accomplishing little in office. From the most frequent flyer to the most exposed, the parallels of Weiner and Ms. Clinton get untracked and converge in megalomania connected by dutiful spouse Huma, who apparently provides favors for both. Both are suspect.

  176. Thanks for being one of the first to bring up the real story of the 2 Hs in a major paper.

    Now if I were a screenwriter I'd have the mayoral candidate stay in the race building up my gross & negative image until the equally involved presidential candidate was willing to pay me as much to get out as my wife was being paid to stay in. Man's rights vs women's rights. It's a story of frustrated testosterone vs unbridled ambition - featuring unbound sex & corruption in high places cast with strong players in the starring roles, seemingly with main characters coming out of closets playing what seems to be unwilling peekaboo with the public via a frightened media.

    Perhaps I shouldn't have seen Miller's Crossing last night but then that was about Boston. I think the Coen brothers are working up this NY story, also.

  177. Good article. I became acquainted with Weiner on TV like most people. I usually agreed with his positions and had no need to go any farther than to notice he loved to be on camera.

    However, when his weird behavior came to light, I saw that he wasn't just behaving badly, he was doing it badly too. When he started running for Mayor and it came out that he hadn't quit his addiction, I also noticed that he didn't have much to show for his stint in Congress.

    With his antagonistic bravado, I wouldn't be surprised if he was still sexting. He clearly hasn't put himself in the humble position needed to conquer his demons. New Yorkers should be scared to put him in Gracie Mansion, let alone give such power to one who hasn't really done anything significant when he had the opportunity to do it.

  178. Plaudits to Mr. Bruni for his vivacious prose!

    "Weiner is the poster boy for a subspecies of lawmakers who are really noisemakers, maestros of the cable-ready kerfuffle, their sights set on MSNBC or Fox News or Politico, their need for notice constant."

    Ours is the Age of the Noisemakers: Weiner, Cruz, Paul, Lee and so many more, too numerous to count.

    (Theirs) is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

    Blue-faced, breath-holding babies, every one.

  179. You have ousted Weiner and now include him with the tea party, but he is no different from other Democrats like Al Franken, elected for his mouthiness and minor celebrity status as a comedy writer, and Alan Grayson.

  180. Looking in on the American politics, iam watching a new sport in the making. A race of soughts. A race to the bottom. A laugh a minute, enthralling cringe-worthy spectacle. A Gold medal for your country is a shoe-in, in this debased race.

  181. I am tired of reading that the field for candidates for mayor is "thin." The field is not thin. Take a hard look at the unglamorous NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. What's wrong with him? His track record shows he's on the right side of issues ranging from good public transporation, quality education and affordable housing to corporate spending in elections. He's a terrific candidate who seems to use his cell phone quite differently from the way Weiner uses his. How about a column on the overlooked Bill de Blasio? P.S. I do not know the man personally, I do not work for the campaign, and I do not know anyone who works for him.