One of the more bizarre scandals in the history of U.S. politics was revived last week when The Dirty, an online celebrity gossip magazine, published sexually explicit photos and texts allegedly made by New York Democrat and former Representative Anthony Weiner and originally sent to a 22 year-old woman. Weiner, who had sent these materials to the unnamed young lady under the amusing pseudonym “Carlos Danger,” did not reveal his face in the photographs, but this bit of caution didn’t help him out. The former Congressman, who has been pursuing a 2014 New York mayoral bid, is currently facing a political crisis that just won’t go away.
The worst part of Weiner’s situation, though, is that he has been through it all once before.
Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal: Part 1
In 2011, while representing New York in the U. S. House, Rep. Weiner was accused of sending sexually suggestive photos of himself, including one shot of his genitals covered by boxer briefs, to a female follower on Twitter. Weiner initially denied that he had sent the private tweets in question and claimed that he was not the subject in the most explicit photo of the bunch. After a period of hounding by the media and mockery by the general public, however, Weiner admitted his actions and announced his resignation from Congress. Weiner, who had gotten married to Hume Abedin the previous year, claimed that he still had her personal support.
Sex scandals are certainly not new to U.S. politics. In stepping down from public office, Weiner joined many of his esteemed colleagues on both sides of the aisle who also became political casualties as a result of their libidos. Weiner’s scandal was also unique, however: for the first time, sexting – sexually-charged texting – had caused the downfall of a politician on the national level.
Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal: Part 2
Early in 2013, Anthony Weiner announced his intention to run in the 2014 New York mayoral race. A Brooklyn native, Weiner’s political credentials were still strong. He had served his district in the House of Representatives for 12 years, from 1999 to 2011, and despite the scandal that had forced him to resign from that office, Weiner ended up polling at the head of the Democratic pack.
Unfortunately for Rep. Weiner, scandal would threaten his political career once again. A photograph revealed by yet another woman who had been in online contact with Weiner was even more explicit than the 2011 pictures, this time showing Weiner’s uncovered genitals. The Dirty published the carefully censored photo along with a message from the lady in question, who claimed that she had only been in contact with Weiner since 2012, after his previous scandal had broken, and that he was not the changed man he claimed to be while on the campaign trail. This new story spread like wildfire throughout the Internet and soon hit all of the national news networks. For the past week, television watchers using services such as http://www.cabletvadvisor.com/ have been pummeled with constant updates on Weiner’s sexting scandal.
The political fallout
A few days ago, Rep. Weiner held a press conference in which he once again admitted his fault, his wife Hume standing by his side. The damage had been done, however. The week of July 23 – 30 saw Weiner’s rank in the Democratic primary polls slip from first to fourth. Weiner’s mayoral hopes were further damaged by the resignation of Danny Kedem, his campaign manager, following the press conference.
Under the circumstances, many are expecting Weiner to quit the race any time now. Even some of his Democratic colleagues are calling for Weiner to throw in the towel. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was himself forced to resign his post in 2008 after being caught with a prostitute, said in an interview on Monday that he would not be voting for Weiner in the New York mayoral primary.
Despite everything, Anthony Weiner has announced that he will not give up his mayoral ambitions and even claims that his campaign has gained more support from volunteers since his latest sexting scandal broke. If the numbers are any indication, though, Weiner is simply putting off the inevitable.
Charlotte Button is a political strategist. She frequently writes about the latest events on political blogs.