Last week, Anthony Weiner, the former congressman and current candidate in the Democratic primary for mayor of New York City, admitted that the sexual incidents that ended his congressional career never really ended.
They didn’t end even after Weiner admitted his mistakes to his constituents, the people of New York City and, more important, his wife.
In fact, a full year after he and his wife decided to put the past behind them and work on their marriage, Weiner was still exchanging racy online messages with a number of women, not just the woman that ended his congressional career.
Listen, no one’s perfect. And, sadly in politics, these types of salacious stories are all too common. People, especially New Yorkers, are disgusted with politicians. Who can blame them?
But Weiner refuses to step out of the public eye and, instead, rather arrogantly, has decided to charge forward and continue his run for mayor. It’s a sad commentary. This is the greatest city in the world. Its mayor has one of the most difficult municipal jobs in the country. People all around the world admire our city. It requires steadfast leadership from a man or woman with the upmost integrity.
Enough is enough.
Weiner has insisted that this is a private matter, but let’s be real. This is a very public campaign — nothing is private. What Mr. Weiner did not once, but several times, over and over again, is unjustifiable.
Remember when he was caught the first time, while he was still in Congress? He tried to cover the whole thing up and say that his account was hacked. How can people put their trust in him? He has not once, but twice concealed things from them.
He wants people to believe that he has their best interests at heart — that he, the person who wants to be in charge of their public safety, the education of their children, their livelihoods, is really trustworthy.
Weiner admitted that his behavior was wrong after he was caught the first time. People may be willing to give politicians second chances, and maybe he deserved a second chance, but a third? For the same sick acts that got him in trouble in the first place? His wife’s forgiveness doesn’t even matter if he did it again.
Clearly, he didn’t learn his lesson, and took the trust and forgiveness of the people of New York City for granted. What assurances do they have that he wouldn’t engage in this type of behavior while in office?
Weiner is a natural campaigner, and many people — especially his former constituents in Queens and Brooklyn — were willing to look past his prior indiscretions. Personally, I was surprised that he was able to rebound and even do well after he first announced that he was entering the mayoral primary. He has always been a narcissist, and his congressional record left much to be desired.
But even loyalists have their limits. In the latest Marist poll, Weiner was almost 9 points behind the front-runner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. That was a sharp decline from earlier polls, which showed him 5 points ahead of Quinn. I predict that his numbers will continue to deteriorate as people become more aware of the layers of his deceit and the arrogance of his lies.
This isn’t just embarrassing. It’s too much to ask voters to look the other way. Weiner’s wiener is becoming a distraction in this race, and preventing the candidates from talking about the real challenges facing the people of New York City: education, public safety, housing and other quality-of-life issues.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have long supported my friend Bill Thompson in the Democratic primary. I hope that, for Thompson’s sake and the sake of the other candidates, Weiner takes his private marital affairs and “personal compulsions,” as The New York Times called them, and drops out of the race. Let the people with real moral fiber continue the debate.
Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.