He wishes he were a New York Mayor Weiner

As with almost any joke with Weiner as its punchline, we saw this coming from a mile away.

Yup, Anthony Weiner’s running for mayor. The “disgraced ex-congressman” (this seems to be his peculiar epithet) has thrown down the glove. No, not that glove, the other glove.

And now we’re going to have to hear that sort of joke for months to come. Like cicadas, all the wiener jokes that somehow managed to winter the climate since 2011 are now crawling slowly back into the headlines. “Did you miss us?” they ask. “Hey, has anyone made a joke about Weiner overexposure yet? Because if you haven’t, you really should! Oh man, we’re going to have so much fun together!”

It’s enough to make you want to join the actual cicadas and stand screaming your head off into the long hot summer nights.

The Weiner Mayor Mobile has been circling the block ominously for some time. There was that New York Times Magazine profile, in which, I am loosely paraphrasing here, many of Weiner’s oldest friends described him as kind of a jerk, implied he was that obnoxious, too-intense guy who gets involved in politics early, basically said he made Rahm Emanuel seem calm and self-possessed, then hastily added “But he’s different now, we think.” Hey, he got a new Twitter. That’s progress.

The first Oh Score! Mayor Weiner advertisement takes the Sanford approach, where you stare into the camera and admit your error. Hey, it worked for Sanford! Weiner notes, “Look, I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down.” (Big mistakes, huh?) “But I’ve also learned some tough lessons. I’m running for mayor because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life, and I hope I get a second chance to work for you.”

And why not? The second-chance narrative is hot right now. Voters gave one to Mark Sanford, and Sanford handed out his cell phone number to the entire state of South Carolina and published strange rambles about the right of a son not to watch the Super Bowl alone. Weiner has been transformed into one of those cardboard cutouts at the punch line of national jokes, but at least we know his name, and face, and — well, name.

The biggest problem with the ad is that its background music makes it sound like one of those pre-flight videos thanking you for flying with American Airlines. When his wife, Huma Abedin, chimes in at the end, you half expect her to announce that the white track lighting leads to red lights that indicate an exit.

But an exit is just exactly what we won’t have for the next several months. Maybe it’s time. I know the quality of mercy is not strained and droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven — a sentence I should abandon immediately before trying to connect it to a Weiner joke. We’ll finally get our answers. How far does the second-chance narrative go? How many Weiner jokes can we stomach? At least he’ll have absolutely no trouble whatsoever with name recognition — and New York had to deal with Mayor Koch, so they can’t say they haven’t dealt with a similar problem before.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.
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Alexandra Petri | May 22, 2013