If the new, lengthy (and ever-so weepy) New York Times magazine profile is any indication, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is feeling the political itch and he’s ready for a comeback.
“I don’t have this burning, overriding desire to go out and run for office,” Weiner tells the New York Times in the 10-page (online) piece. “It’s not the single animating force in my life as it was for quite some time. But I do recognize, to some degree, it’s now or maybe never for me, in terms of running for something. I’m trying to gauge not only what’s right and what feels comfortable right this second, but I’m also thinking, How will I feel in a year or two years or five years? Is this the time that I should be doing it? And then there’s the other side of the coin, which is . . . am I still the same person who I thought would make a good mayor?”
Weiner, the once-feisty congressman who famously resigned from office in summer 2011 after confessing to having sent lurid photos of himself to women online, now has his sight set on New York City mayor. He confirms in the profile that his political committee has, as recent reports state, spent more than $100,000 on polling. The results of the polls haven’t been full released but Weiner says they indicate the New York voters are ready to move past his scandal but lukewarm at the idea of voting for him.
But the New York Times piece isn’t about Weiner’s ambitions. Not directly. It’s about getting readers to understand why he did what he did (send crotch shots and other photos to women online), how sorry he is for it and how his wife Huma Abedin has forgiven him.
The article says Weiner now spends most of his time at home, where he shares an office with Abedin. Until recently, Abedin served as the deputy chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Weiner goes to the park with his and Abedin’s 13-month-old son Jordan, he picks up his wife’s dry cleaning and does the grocery shopping. “They seem to be functioning again as a couple, even unselfconsciously bickering in front of the waiter,” the profile, written by Vogue and New York magazine editor Jonathan Van Meter, says.
When Weiner accidentally sent out what he now refers to as the “one fateful tweet” (a photo his crotch in underwear with what Van Meter calls “an obvious erection”), he denied it was him. He said his account had been hacked. The Times piece covers how he finally fessed up to Abedin, tears included:
That weekend, Weiner and Abedin escaped to a friend’s house in the Hamptons to get away from all the “hoopla,” as Weiner calls it, “and that’s when people starting coming out of the woodwork. I got a call from Chris Cuomo saying that they had someone who was going to say that I texted with her. It reached this point where I just sat down with Huma and said, ‘Listen, I can’t. . . . I don’t want to lie.’ . . . I just didn’t want to lie anymore to her.” Here, his voice cracks and tears well up in his eyes. “I have a choppy memory of it, but she was devastated. She immediately said, ‘Well you’ve got to stop lying to everyone else too.’ And basically we drove back to the city, and she said: ‘You’ve just got to tell everyone the truth. Telling me doesn’t help any.’ It was brutal. It was completely out of control. There was the crime, there was the cover-up, there was harm I had done to her. And there’s no one who deserved this less than Huma. That’s really the bottom line. No one deserved to have a dope like me do that less than she did.”
Abedin is quoted on her feelings at the time.
“[W]e were very early in our marriage, but it was an old friendship. He was my best friend. In addition to that, I loved him,” she said. “There was a deep love there, but it was coupled with a tremendous feeling of betrayal. It took a lot of work, both mentally and in the way we engage with each other, for me to get to a place where I said: ‘O.K., I’m in. I’m staying in this marriage.’ Here was a man I respected, I loved, was the father of this child inside of me, and he was asking me for a second chance. And I’m not going to say that was an easy or fast decision that I made. It’s been almost two years now. I did spend a lot of time saying and thinking: ‘I. Don’t. Understand.’ And it took a long time to be able to sit on a couch next to Anthony and say, ‘O.K., I understand and I forgive.’ It was the right choice for me. I didn’t make it lightly.”
Save a photo shoot and interview with People magazine after the birth of their son, Weiner and Abedin have maintained a relatively low profile and said very little about the Twitter scandal. So, an official account of how Weiner got so wrapped up in social media has never been detailed. The part comes out in the profile (emphasis added):
“Part of the challenge of getting to the bottom of it for me,” he said, “is that I viewed it as so frivolous that it didn’t spark a lot of, like, ‘O.K., I started doing it on this day’ or ‘O.K., now I’m crossing a Rubicon.’ For a thoughtful person, it’s remarkable how little thought I really gave to it until it was too late. But I think a lot of it came down to: I was in a world and a profession that had me wanting people’s approval. By definition, when you are a politician, you want people to like you, you want people to respond to what you’re doing, you want to learn what they want to hear so you can say it to them. Twitter and Facebook allowed for me — not only could I go to a town-hall meeting or a senior center or in front of the TV camera, but now I could sit and hear what people were saying all around. Search your name on Google, begat read comments on your Facebook page, begat looking at what people are saying about you on Twitter, to then trying to engage them. ‘Oh, you should like me!’ ‘No, that’s wrong!’ or ‘Thank you very much!’ And it just started to blur into this desire to engage in it all the time. Someone stops me in the airport and says, ‘Wow, you’re amazing.’ Well, O.K., now, at 2 o’clock in the morning, I can come home from playing hockey and I can find someone saying, ‘Oh, that was great’ or ‘You’re an idiot.’ So somewhere in there it got to a place where I was trying to engage people in nothing about being a politician. Or sometimes it would start out about politics and then, ‘You’re a great guy.’ ‘Oh, thanks, you’re great, too.’ ‘I think you’re handsome.’ ‘Oh, that’s great.’ And there just wasn’t much of me who was smart enough, sensitive enough, in touch with my own things, understanding enough about the disrespect and how dishonorable it was to be doing that. It didn’t seem to occupy a real space in my feelings. I think it would be pretty surprising to a lot of people: What was he thinking?” He scrunched up his face and shoulders. “I wasn’t really thinking. What does this mean that I’m doing this? Is this risky behavior? Is this smart behavior? To me, it was just another way to feed this notion that I want to be liked and admired.”
Weiner enrolled in therapy after the scandal broke out. There, he learned he doesn’t have a sex addiction or any of “the easy stuff,” as he calls it. “She didn’t tell me: ‘You have a sex addiction! You were abused as a child!’ None of that stuff, which in a lot of ways, I’d kind of prefer.” He says in the piece. “It’s an easy explanation that people intuitively get.”
Lastly, some more tears on how things now have “perspective” and he’s working to “get it right” this time:
“[I]n the confines of our home and our relationship and our parenting this child and our love for each other — she said she wanted to get through it, she wanted not to conflate the giant international news story with the two people who were involved in it. And a lot of women couldn’t do that. And Jordan has given us a lot of perspective. We have to deal with this a lot. It’s not behind us. It kind of bubbles around and comes up in different ways. But she’s, um. . . .” Here, he paused and took a deep breath and started to cry. “She’s given. . . .” He stopped again, could barely get the words out. “She’s given me another chance. And I am very grateful for that. And I’m trying to make sure I get it right.”
Read the full profile here.