In an environment where a sexual and charismatic black hole like Henry Kissinger can be famously quoted as saying that "Power is the ultimate aphrodesiac" it is not particularly surprising to hear about politicians' extramarital activities. The media turned a blind eye to the not-so-secret dalliances of Kennedy, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and even George H.W. Bush. It's really only after dozens of trumped up investigations against Bill Clinton resulted in nothing more than a tryst with a White House intern that the media suddenly turned puritanical. Realizing that the salacious details of soiled dresses and despoiled cigars increased ratings better than wonky discussions of real estate deals gone south, the media was only too happy to start detailing the most intimate encounters of politicians no one should have to imagine sexually aroused (looking at you, David Vitter).
So when Anthony Weiner was caught sexting and tweeting crotch shots to women other than his wife, the media saw ratings gold in them thar bulges, and Weiner's political career went careening out of commission. Frankly, if you share my belief that Weiner's actions are between him and his wife and the deity of his choice, it's only interesting as a study in the different standards held for Democratic and Republican candidates. Nevertheless, Weiner stepped (temporarily) out of the spotlight, focused on his family (his wife was pregnant at the time of his stepping down) and bided his time.
Counting on the institutional amnesia of the American political circus, Weiner is now attempting a comeback, considering a run for the mayorship of New York City. But as Steve Kornacki aptly lays out, the media missed the larger question of just what Anthony Weiner is willing to do to get into office:
When a Hasidic Jewish man accidentally killed a 7-year-old black boy in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, long-simmering tensions between the two communities erupted into riots. Against that backdrop, Weiner’s campaign distributed a mailer playing to white, middle-class voters’ racist fears and tying his Democratic primary opponent to Mayor David Dinkins, the city’s first African-American Mayor, and Rev. Jesse Jackson.
At the time, his campaign did not admit to being responsible for the campaign mailer, but after Weiner won the primary and his political future was assured, he came clean and suffered no lasting consequences for making such “an ugly appeal to voters’ worst nature,” as Kornacki put it.
But in the country's largest and most diverse city, can New Yorkers really afford another divisive politician whose ambition will overcome any level of nauseating choices just to get into office?