Former US Congressman Anthony Weiner is a liar and a predator by his own admission. But then Mark Sanford is a fool, a fabricator and a philanderer–facts also recorded by his own abject testimony. Sanford survived lying to his entire State and using its money to rendezvouz with his Argentine paramour in South America, while his aides said he was hiking. (He was missing for SIX DAYS, his whereabouts unknown even by his own security team, all while he was actively Governor.) South Carolina–and Sanford’s wife–told him to take an actual hike, but then the state incredibly changed its mind, and made him a Congressman in 2013. The prodigal son logic of the voters isn’t difficult to follow: they calculated that Sanford’s political connections, despite his dismal character and flagrant dishonesty, would serve their interests better than a candidate with fewer strings to pull. People in need–and South Carolinians need jobs–don’t have the luxury of condemning moral turpitude. Or they may condemn it but they can’t punish it. Your wealthy uncle is a cad? So what: be kind and he might put you in the will. Practical expediency trumps precious morality, says the SC election result. The question now is: is New York City different from South Carolina?
Which brings us back to Anthony Weiner announcing his candidacy for Mayor of New York. The lewd, smart, opportunistic and ingratiating Weiner gained national fame with his camera, so it’s no surprise that his announcement comes via video. In the two-minute spot, Weiner speaks easily about his fortitude, his experience, and his ambition (for New York). He is cloaked in a familial glow. His first word is the name of his son. Weiner and his wife feed the child, whose large innocent beautiful eyes stare into the camera as if to say help me–they’re using me as a prop. Weiner goes on to tell New Yorkers that New York is “like no other place,” a fact most will be aware of. And that “in Congress, I got a billion dollars to put more cops on the beat.” That’s a lot of money (he’d win in South Carolina). But his old constituency may have questions: some of those cops do a lot of “stop and frisk.” Weiner, the Times reports, has $5 million in his “war chest.” It’s what current mayor Mike Bloomberg might spend on (a fat-free) lunch, but still proof that Weiner’s is no lunch pail candidacy. There’s no tagline for the campaign yet. “Picture This”–an early favorite–has been discarded. As has “Indignant Lying Sometimes Works.” What will New York do? The city is used to all kinds of treatment. It’s praised, loved, envied, hated and derided all in turn. But it’s rarely laughed at. So Weiner’s candidacy does actually pave the way in New York for something new.