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The Incredible Talking Weiner

May 09, 2013

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The Incredible Talking Weiner

I keep getting surprised by my own naïveté.

The case here is that of Anthony D. Weiner, who until two years ago was the US Representative from a Jewish/white-ethnic/black district of Brooklyn.

Rep. Weiner became ex-Rep. Weiner after Tweeting suggestive pictures of himself to female e-acquaintances and then lying about the matter. He resigned his seat, sub-editors at the New York tabloids showered so many puns and double entendres on the city that the Sanitation Department had to clear them from the streets with snow plows, and those of us who’d never seen eye-to-eye with Weiner (sorry, it’s contagious) assumed we had heard the last of him—that his premature withdrawal (sorry, sorry) from public life would be permanent.

Weiner’s appeal had always been lost on me, though I only knew the man from having occasionally seen him on TV. His policy positions were conventionally Jewish-left-liberal, except that he delivered them in a particularly grating way. His specialty was whipping himself up into a bogus fury decorated with bellowing mock indignation, a thin-lipped exophthalmic glare, and jabbing finger motions that could have punched through drywall. On the rare occasions a politician is justified in simulating anger, I prefer a calmer style drawn soft-voiced from a well of stillness.

“Weiner had never had any working life outside politics, a thing that always raises my suspicions of a candidate’s character.”

And Weiner had never had any working life outside politics, a thing that always raises my suspicions of a candidate’s character. If you have no other way to support yourself than by chasing votes, who knows what you won’t say or do to stay in the arena? Weiner had never shoveled concrete for a living, or stocked warehouse shelves, or sold haberdashery over a counter, or taught a roomful of fidgeting kids, or proofed newspaper copy, or programmed computers. Having done all those things, and being inclined to self-righteous smugness about my breadwinning versatility, I looked down on the guy as a loser.

Woe to the smug! The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low! Earlier this year, as reported by Radio Derb, we heard that Weiner has thrust himself into (really sorry) the New York City mayoral race.

Given the manner of Weiner’s leaving Congress, he didn’t seem very electable. As the New York Post opined, Weiner’s road to the mayoralty would surely be “long and hard.” Possibly so; but at the end of April Weiner was holding his own (look, you try writing with a straight face about this guy) in the polls.

That wasn’t what brought my naïveté home to me, though. I’d been supposing that Weiner, being out of politics, had no income; and that having no income, he was being supported by his wife, a high-level flunky in the court of Hillary Clinton. I’d been quietly enjoying the thought of Tantrum Tony sitting listless at home, wondering whether he should sign up at trade school for a course in bricklaying while waiting for Mrs. Weiner to bring home the family paycheck.

The full extent of my cluelessness was revealed to me last week by a story in The New York Times. “Weiner Makes Lucrative Name in Consulting,” said the headline.

It did not take Mr. Weiner long to embark on a new career after he left Congress on June 16, 2011. On July 7, he quietly incorporated a new firm, Woolf Weiner Associates, named for his great-grandfather, an Austrian immigrant to the Lower East Side.

Consulting? What does this guy know about business?