Why We Should Feel No Pity for Anthony Weiner

The former Congressman cried as he plead guilty to charges related to sexting a minor girl. But no amount of tears can change the fact that his scandals helped elect Trump.

Mario Tama/Getty

Today, Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a months-long sexting relationship with a 15-year-old girl, finally putting one of this country’s most pathetic political careers out of its misery. One hopes.

The official term for the charge—transferring obscene material to a minor—conveys an inappropriate shop teacher creepiness and carries with it a possible jail term and sex offender registration requirement. But the six little words describing Weiner’s legal transgressions can’t possibly convey what a disaster Weiner’s proclivities have been to everything he’s touched, beyond his own junk. His family, his political party, his city, his country, and—hell, why not?—the world are worse off because of Anthony Weiner. No apology, no plea, no amount of public puppy dogging can atone for what he’s done.

At every step of the Weiner saga, things felt like they couldn’t get any darker, or sadder, or more pathetic. And every step of the way, Weiner lowered the bar. The bar is now subterranean. We are digging holes in order to accommodate the low altitude of the bar.

In 2011, Weiner was a seven-term Democratic Congressman from New York City famous for his viral-friendly House floor rants. But then, the married Weiner accidentally tweeted images of his eponymous organ publicly, which led to a press conference where Weiner announced that he’d been sexting with a handful of women over a short period of time. He resigned from Congress in disgrace, and was replaced by a Republican in a special election. Weiner’s wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, was pregnant during all this.

But he wasn’t done. By 2013, Weiner re-entered politics, this time as a candidate for mayor of the city of New York. He looked to be the frontrunner, too, until it turns out he was still sending photos of his junk to women who weren’t his wife. His numbers tanked, his campaign imploded, and now New York City is stuck with Bill de Blasio, whom people on many points of the political continuum can agree is a pretty shitty mayor.

For reasons that now feel pathological, Weiner allowed a documentary film crew to tail him during his mayoral candidacy, from the rocket-ship highs to the underpants lows. Footage from that time became the mesmerizing-horrifying film Weiner. As a viewer, it was hard to shake the feeling that, even when things seemed to be going terribly for him, Weiner was enjoying every second of his humiliation.

In August 2016, Weiner was back, as welcome to the news cycle as an outbreak of herpes to a spring break cruise. This time, his sexting partner was an underage girl, his wife was entrenched in the political campaign of Hillary Clinton, and the entire fate of the world held in the balance. One of the photos costarred his own child, sleeping placid and oblivious next to him. The FBI seized Weiner’s electronic devices as part of an investigation into his conduct. It was unclear if emails sent from Hillary Clinton’s private server were involved. James Comey gave a press conference. And now, fast-forwarding several months, Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court. Obamacare stands to be blown up like an unnecessarily large bomb on an Afghanistan mountainside. The executive branch is a wriggling rat king, a hive of sycophants and incompetents. The director of the FBI, the same one who took a gander at Anthony Weiner’s laptop, has been fired. Relationships with key global allies have been thrown into disarray. And Saudis are readying the well-done steak and ketchup for President Donald Trump, a deeply stupid and incurious man who is afraid to descend stairs. Every day is a piping hot bowl of fresh hell.

To be perfectly frank, we wouldn’t be here without Anthony Weiner.

This isn’t to suggest the world would be all sunshine and baskets of puppies if, say, Christine Quinn had won the New York City mayoral election instead of Bill de Blasio, or if Hillary Clinton had been elected president instead of Donald Trump. But it’s sure hard to imagine how either woman could screw up their respective constituencies more than the men who made it to their posts by drafting off Weiner’s metastatic horniness.

During his guilty plea in a Manhattan courtroom today, the disgraced husband/ father/ congressman/ mayoral candidate/ person broke down into tears. “I have a sickness, but not an excuse,” he said.

“I am committed to making amends to all those I harmed,” he added.

That’s a pretty thought, but it’s too late for forgiveness.

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The radius of damage resulting from Weiner’s inability to keep his bulge in check is impressively vast. He’s done more to screw up America by accident than many with nefarious intentions have been able to do on purpose.

I suspect I’m not alone in feeling completely unmoved by Anthony Weiner’s self-pitying histrionics; the world would have been better off had he never dabbled in politics. Weiner is a totem of juvenile male weakness. He is a man who tripped on his own dick and brought down an entire country with him.

Good riddance. Here’s hoping wherever he ends up, there are no camera phones.