One of the first rules of public relations is to get out in front of the negative issues you’re currently facing, so that nothing new continues to pop up and add media cycles to the scandal – a.k.a. it needs to get worse before it gets better, so it’s best to put it all out there. But it’s especially hard to keep new scandals from exploding when you continue to do the thing that’s creating the scandals in the first place. So I guess that should be our newest, first rule of PR: Stop being such an asshole, ASAP.
Such is the complicated life of Anthony Weiner. After accidentally tweeting a picture of his anonymous bulge in 2011, the New York Democrat decided to lie, telling the naturally curious media that his Twitter account had been hijacked, presumably by penis-obsessed computer hackers. Thankfully, before the press could start demanding to see Little Weiner for a comparison shot, the Congressman called a tearful press conference to announce his resignation. His wife Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, stood by him that day. Pregnant with their first child, she chose to ride out the wave of Weiner-bashing (not as painful as it sounds) in as dignified a way as possible. Life moved on.
Yet after less than two years – a nano-second in political time – Weiner is back in the spotlight once again, running to replace Michael Bloomberg as New York City Mayor. After this announcement weeks ago, he jumped out to a quick lead over his primary opponents. The liberal citizens of New York were seemingly ready to forgive the epic electronic exposure of his tiny namesake as just another uncouth politician stroking his ego.
Yet as we now know, rather than taking his lumps, Weiner opted to keep up his humps. In fact, it seems he barely changed his approach, sending graphic nude pics to multiple women online using the pseudonym “Carlos Danger,” which amazingly still rates as less humorous than his legal name. Weiner underplayed the proceedings as some sort of ‘old news,’ but there’s one problem: He’s been doing this as recently as since last fall, long after his People Magazine redemption article in which he proclaimed he “felt like a different person.” No doubt for his campaign these new developments are a, um, pickle.
This shows more than just the human desire to placate Little Weiner, which voters have historically tolerated in candidates like Bill Clinton, but a true inability to control himself despite the evident risks. By the way, Anthony, when you start chatting about “what in my political platform turns you on the most?” with women, the pseudonym is no longer going to be effective. Also, it makes you look like an insecure douchebag, for your information. It’s clear from the parabolic arc of the poll numbers that this all could be politically fatal, despite his solid lead less than two weeks ago.
After Weiner’s initial success, it seemed like all of New York’s disgraced pols decided the time was right to come out from the rock they were hiding under, most notably former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. While a decorated Wall Street ball-buster, Spitzer also enjoyed ball-busting prostitutes; he resigned during his very own Ashamed Wife Pageant press conference, with the enlightened idea that the state could now have it’s first blind, black governor that enjoyed dalliances with women other than his wife in David Paterson. You can’t make this shit up.
Even though he fell from a higher perch, Spitzer took a different tack than Weiner’s “jump back in” approach (insert joke here). In interviews he’s seemingly contrite, having paid dues with endless media lashings, but still patient and understanding of why he’s being questioned about his past. He bided his time in CNN talking head purgatory without ever once driving a pen deep into his ear canal, which shows true mental toughness. He’s not trying to pretend his personal life is perfect, but feels he can still be of service to the public, warts and all.
Spitzer is running for Comptroller, a position of which most New Yorkers are utterly ignorant (try playing Name Your Favorite Comptroller; it’s not that fun of a game). Weiner, on the other hand, jumped into the high stakes, shark-infested waters of the NYC mayoral race. Now, blood is in the water, and it’s time to sink or swim. After all, there’s only room for so many weiners in the pages of the New York Post each day.