The clock is ticking for Carlos Danger.
The revelation this week that Democrat Anthony Weiner engaged in an explicit sexting relationship with a woman last summer, more than a year after he resigned his seat in the US House and just as he was plotting a return to politics, has led to mounting calls for him to withdraw from the New York mayor’s race.
And that’s before his remarks Thursday that he engaged in such exchanges of sexual messages with at least three women after his resignation.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi summed up her feelings in a few words. Hey, Weiner, she suggested Thursday, “get a clue.”
Second chances are one thing, third, quite another. Even for hard-bitten New Yorkers who have seen it all. Maybe they haven’t seen the likes of Mr. Weiner, though. The guy who has lured young women into cybersex conversations and sent them lewd selfies – all while publicly pretending to nurture a new marriage to a powerful political operative and raise their toddler son.
His Tuesday press conference with wife Huma Abedin by his side – a display of shamelessness, denial, and defiance that might even trump the famous Bill Clinton finger wag – practically bumped feverish coverage of the royal baby’s departure from the hospital into oblivion.
Understatement alert, here, but the former congressman has a problem. Call it addiction or misogyny, gross narcissism or just plain stupidity. Check ‘all of the above,’ even. That craving for cybergratification outside his marriage – the first of the latest revelations was released by a website called The Dirty – is proving a swelling distraction for voters and the Democratic Party.
Weiner has turned the mayoral contest into a “circus,” as his chief rival, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, suggested, and that’s saying something for a city that usually thrives on unusual political leaders and the wacky theater they provide.
"I think he should pull out of the race,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents New York’s 10th district, said Wednesday. “I think he needs serious psychiatric help."
No shock here, but several of his rivals are stating the same. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Councilman Sal Albanese, both Democrats, and billionaire John Catsimatidis, a Republican, have said Weiner should hit the road.
And former city comptroller Bill Thomson, also seeking the Democratic nomination, said he was “disgusted” by Weiner’s behavior.
With fewer than seven weeks until the party’s Sept. 10 primary, Quinn asserted that New Yorkers deserve better, though she stopped short of telling Weiner to buzz off.
“The circus that Mr. Weiner has brought to the mayor’s race these last two months has been a disservice to New Yorkers who are looking for someone who has the judgment and maturity to lead this city and a record of actually delivering real results for them,” she said in a statement.
“Being the Mayor of New York is serious business and it demands a serious leader. Instead we have seen a pattern of reckless behavior, consistently poor judgment, and difficulty with the truth. New Yorkers deserve something completely different: they deserve a mayor who has the judgment, maturity, record, and vision to lead this city.”
A survey of New Yorkers taken Wednesday, in the wake of the latest scandal reports, shows Weiner has ceded his frontrunner status to Quinn. His negative ratings, meanwhile, are on an upswing.
The NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll finds Weiner trailing Quinn by nine points. In June, Weiner was up five points over Quinn in a similar survey.
And 55 percent of those polled have an unfavorable view of Weiner, while three in 10 give him favorable marks. Some 15 percent are unsure how to rate him or haven’t heard of him (where are they living?). In the June poll, more than half – 52 percent – had a favorable opinion of Weiner, while 36 percent did not.
“New York City Democrats were willing to give Anthony Weiner a second chance but are reluctant to excuse his behavior now,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
Underscoring the numbers, the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women, which has endorsed Quinn, wants Weiner to drop out, calling him “clearly and compellingly unfit for public office.”
The editorial boards of city publications are piling on as well. The New York Times wrote that “the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City. ... It’s up to Mr. Weiner if he wants to keep running, to count on voters to forgive and forget and hand him the keys to City Hall. But he has already disqualified himself.”
It seems trotting out one’s wife – or allowing her to present herself as half of a united if also delusional team – is no longer the cure-all to “self-inflicted” public humiliation, as Weiner has deemed his actions. It doesn’t appear to matter that Ms. Abedin proclaimed Tuesday that she believes in Weiner and loves him and that, after much therapy, she has decided to stay with him.
Voters aren’t sure they want to be involved with Weiner anymore, even though he says he’s sticking around. Too much lying, too risky. They, at least for now, see the danger signs clearly.
An alias can speak volumes.