By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
During the past few days, since the revelation of Anthony Weiner’s “Carlos Danger” alter ego and his latest cyber-affairs, the drumbeat has been clamoring for Weiner to resign from the mayoral race. The Daily News advised Weiner to “Beat It!” The New York Post rhetorically asked his wife, “What’s wrong with you?” Several of Weiner’s rivals in the mayoral race have called on him to resign, and one Republican candidate says Weiner is unqualified to be the titular head of the Department of Education, which he would be as mayor, because he can’t be trusted around young people.
Sexually suspect behavior among candidates did not start with Anthony Weiner, or with Eliot Spitzer for that matter. Thomas Jefferson apparently had several children with his slave mistress, Sally Hemings, even though he denied it. In the 19th century, President Grover Cleveland fathered a child out of wedlock, as did Brooklyn-Staten Island Congressman Vito Fossella more than a century later. John F. Kennedy apparently had liaisons and affairs too numerous to count. And who can forget Bill Clinton and his various sex scandals?
Perhaps what disgusts people about Anthony Weiner is not what he did, but the way in which he did it. He apparently never had physical contact with any of the women he “sexted,” but instead became excited by sending and receiving lewd messages. Before the internet, this was known as “phone sex,” and was pretty popular with some people. It’s just not what we expect from our political candidates.
If Weiner, like Giuliani, had merely had a mistress, the public could have reluctantly accepted it. But “sexting” strikes an uncomfortable nerve in many people. In a sense, it’s immature behavior, like the crank calls that teenagers sometimes make (I plead guilty to having made some of these calls). It also calls into question Weiner’s emotional maturity for the job of mayor.
Totally lost in this scandal are Anthony Weiner’s political ideas. (In case you’re interested, I don’t support Weiner for mayor and never have). In Congress, he was one of the few people with the courage to advocate a single-payer healthcare system, a system held by almost every other industrialized nation in the world. He also wants to change the “80-20” formula for developers who receive tax breaks and zoning concessions to 60-20-20 – 60 percent market-rate, 20 percent middle-income and 20 percent low-income, thus bringing the middle class into the equation.
As much as I respect some of Weiner’s rivals, such as Bill de Blasio and Sal Albanese, I reject their calls for Weiner to categorically resign. We must remember that many of the great steps forward taken by this country originated with men who were very flawed in their personal lives: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King.
In my opinion, there are plenty of reasons why Anthony Weiner is not the best candidate – and wasn’t the best even before this scandal. But are the Democratic voters of New York City little children who have to be told who they should be allowed to vote for? I thought that was the reason for the primary process in the first place.
If Weiner is such as a dangerous character, then the time to say it is on Primary Day. If there is to be a “Weenie roast,” let it be done by the voters, not by the media or his political rivals.