Like many of those who have followed the astonishing story revolving around Congressman Anthony Weiner, I initially presumed that he was the innocent victim of a prank. But after days of his stonewalling as facts that smell a little fishy have leaked out, perhaps it’s time to for even those who support his liberal politics to come to grips with some basic flaws in his character.
At this point, Weiner’s refusal to call for an investigation of what would be a crime if his account really had been hacked, or even to answer reporters’ questions about why he was following the young woman who was sent the lewd tweet, is suspicious. Weiner may be completely faultless, but as his brutish tap dance routine with CNN showed yesterday, he’s acting awfully guilty.
Up until this past weekend, Weiner was the odds-on favorite to succeed Michael Bloomberg as mayor of New York City in 2013. But his refusal to answer a few basic questions about the episode has already done more damage to his reputation than anything allegedly politically motivated pranksters might have done. Indeed, it may just be that this arrogant and self-righteous man simply doesn’t have the common sense to stop lecturing the press when he should be doing what he can to put questions to rest. The longer Weiner keeps this story alive—and at this point it is he and not the press who is doing so—the less the vituperative Democrat looks like someone with a political future.
I’m still willing to give the congressman the benefit of the doubt about the incident. But this story may have opened a window into his character that has nothing to do with alleged sexual harassment. The story has exposed him, in a way that numerous other previous incidents of his bullying the press and abusing his political antagonists never have, as the sort of person who ought not to be entrusted with higher office. His innocence, which still ought to be presumed, is now almost beside the point. Weiner’s instinctive refusal to be as transparent about himself as he demands from others when they are in the cross hairs of the press during a scandal, illustrates exactly what a political lout he has always been.