Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
The news media has been having a blast in the few days watching Congressman Anthony Weiner’s story, and maybe life, fall apart. Until this week, Congressman Weiner had been dodging, deflecting, and rationalizing reports over the previous week and a half that he had been sending lewd photographs and suggestive messages through social networking websites to a half a dozen young women around the country. In a news conference on Monday, June 6th, 2011, Congressman Weiner confirmed these reports and admitted lying up to that point about these allegations, stating basically that they were all true (1).
Congressman Weiner has been a rising star in the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so. After being elected as the youngest person ever to New York City’s city council at age 27, a 31-year-old Weiner was featured in an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine back in 1996 as one of 101 eligible bachelors. In highlights from an interview, Cosmopolitan listed his stated future political aspirations as “plans to run for Congress within the next couple of years.” (2) Three years later he was elected in New York’s ninth district to the United States House of Representatives. He won election in November 2010 to his seventh consecutive term representing that district.
In May of 2010, as a member of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Weiner, made national headlines when he issued a report on gold retailer Goldline International and its commercial relationship with a number of conservative radio talk show hosts, especially targeting that with Glenn Beck. The report contended that Beck and Goldline traded in fear mongering, misleading sales tactics, and exorbitantly priced products, and announced Weiner’s intention to introduce legislation adding further disclosure regulations, presumedly to precious metals retailers, as well as noting Weiner’s written request to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting an investigation into Goldline’s business and advertising practices (3). Goldline has been cooperative. Beck has been defiant (4). Weiner has yet to introduce legislation concerning the issue, and the investigation and debate is ongoing (5).
Almost a year ago, in a ceremony officiated by former president Bill Clinton, Congressman Weiner, a Jew, married one Miss Huma Abedin, a close aide and longtime protegé of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton since Clinton was the First Lady. A striking and exotic thirtysomething beauty, Abedin is the first generation American daughter of scholarly, foreign-born Muslim parents. She was raised as a Muslim in Saudi Arabia and returned to the United States as a young woman to attend George Washington University. She is widely respected and known for her private nature, professionalism, organizational skills, and loyalty (6). Breaking news: she’s reportedly pregnant (7). Oops.
Anthony Weiner is obviously a talented, and I believe, principled man. He might be guilty of the usual lies of omission and faulty logic common among ideologues, but he believes sincerely that his ends justify his means. He’s a relentless, studied, articulate, savvy, unapologetic and passionate advocate for all things liberal. He knows how to control a conversation, that’s for sure. What he has done for the Democratic Party before two weeks ago, he has done fabulously. For this writer, he’s simultaneously irritating, entertaining, and fascinating as a master of political rhetoric. He’s kind of like Madonna: whether or not you like her music or personal style, you have to admire her focus and drive. She gets it done. And the Democratic Party stands to lose a lot if it loses Anthony Weiner. He is one of the few liberals who will stand toe-to-toe with anyone, actually argue policy, and end with a wry smile. Right or wrong, more than most, he does his homework.
We now know who Anthony Weiner is. But who are we? That question is just as interesting. And we’ll find out the answer tomorrow on American Parser.