Thursday's headlines that Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, thought herself to blame for the congressman's repeated forays into the lands of sexting women who were absolutely not her, kept the focus of his story exactly where it seems to have landed: on everyone involved but him.
The fact that the people getting the most press in this latest chapter of Weiner-gate happen to be the women tied to him professionally or personally, and not the man himself? Unsurprising, perhaps, but no less disappointing given the circumstances, which remain that he is the only one among them running for public office. He is a former United States congressman who resigned his position as a result of his admissions of sexually inappropriate behavior. He is now a candidate for mayor of New York City, and before the race is even over, new information has come to light that indicates that he not only didn't stop his sexting, but may have even let his fingers do the cell phone walking even more enthusiastically.
May 23, 2013 - New York City, NY, USA - Disgraced politician Anthony Weiner sets out on the campaign trail in the West village as he makes a bid for election to the post of NYC mayor n New York City (Credit Image: © Curtis Means/Ace Pictures/ZUMAPRESS.com)
And yet, since news broke last week of Weiner's return to making sexually-charged contact with women after his resignation from Congress two years ago for the very same behavior, the news has been focused almost entirely on the Weiner supporting cast of colorful, likely-not-coincidentally female characters.
(One side question about Morgan: I would love to see the people she competed with for that job.)
Olivia Nuzzi, former intern, told the New York Daily News that she joined Weiner's mayoral campaign because she thought she'd find it "educational and entertaining." What she found was a candidate who couldn't remember anyone's name and had a penchant for calling all interns "Monica." (Monica? Really?)
And of course, there is Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, the former Deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton, with a slew of other high-level jobs to her name, by the way, who is, one would imagine by her own choice, taking the "stand by your man" approach to the extreme.
Sydney Leathers. Huma Abedin. Barbara Morgan. Olivia Nuzzi. Any and all "Monicas." It's raining women here in Anthony Weiner-land.
So what about him, really? What should Anthony Weiner do, putting all question (although yes, it's a big question) aside of how he has treated this group of women? There is discussion about whether Weiner should remove himself from the New York City mayoral race, in which he has slipped to fourth place, but he is so far not having that, because that is not how New York operates. (No one told him that he is not the city, necessarily, I guess.) Tuesday, he released a video statement that indicates that he will not quit.
"Quit isn't the way we roll in New York City. We fight through tough things. We’re a tough city," he said.
What New York's well-known fortitude has to do with one of its candidates for public office plowing through a scandal related to his seeming inability to keep his inappropriate thoughts and pictures to himself, and not in the cell phones and who knows what else of women far and wide, is unclear.
What is clear is that the focus of the story should remain where it so far has not been -- on Weiner's personal accountability and fitness to run, and not on the behaviors of the women who hold various roles in his personal and professional spaces.
Upon his last resignation from office, he said:
"I'd like to make it clear that I have made terrible mistakes that have hurt the people I cared about the most."
Apparently acknowledging that and moving forward with changed behavior are mutually exclusive, in this case.
The main question really remains: does the public care to support a man who seems to congratulate himself for not having "dozens and dozens" of affairs, but only two or three? Will this person conduct himself in office with the same excuse-making and seeming disregard for others that make him seem, to me, ultimately incapable of taking responsibility without blaming it on the media?
As a voter, although not in New York City, I'm more concerned about that than what Huma Abedin chooses to do, because that's not my business, as much as I'd love to know what motivates her as an intelligent woman and a human being to remain in what must be a humiliating public position. I'm way more concerned about that than a Sydney Leathers movie. I will cop to wanting to know what motivates Barbara Morgan to call people names like that in her line of work, but that's more morbid curiosity than anything.
When pressed, I'll admit that I don't want to think about Anthony Weiner anymore, at all. I already let Jimmy Fallon do that for me, and it worked out pretty well for both of us, I think. But what I want to focus on less is the women in his life, particularly when it comes at the crucial expense of holding him accountable for behavior that we've been over once already. There comes a time when obvious news is obvious. I'm pretty sure we're there, and while the cast of lady characters around him has expanded, and the contacts in his phone may have changed since last we talked, Anthony Weiner remains the consistent player here.
Contributing Editor Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites.
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