Several months ago, I suggested a comparison between Don Draper and Anthony Weiner, men whose duplicity suggests a psyche with two sides at war with themselves. Good Don wants a strong family, to be a good colleague, to do great work. Bad Don drinks, feels sorry for himself, philanders and hurts everyone in his path. So it is with some politicians: Bill Clinton had a bad side. He supposedly had his demons under control when he ran for president, but then they reemerged and wreaked havoc on his presidency and those who worked for and loved him.
Anthony Weiner has even given his evil twin a name, Carlos Danger, a much more colorful appellation than “Saturday Night Bill,” the one Dick Morris attached to Clinton’s dark doppelgänger. Carlos kept on playing, long after Anthony had led us, and perhaps his family, to believe he had retired. What’s interesting is not whether Weiner should end his candidacy or the peculiars of his titillations. Rather, it is the unique division of self that plagues some modern politicians. Years ago, Robert Penn Warren wrote about the “man of fact” and the “man of idea” in “All the King’s Men.” But Warren meant a conflict between idealism and cold political pragmatism. With Weiner and his ilk, the conflict is more like looking into two mirrors of narcissism: Anthony wants love and respect for being good and he wants the same things for being bad. There is no higher purpose than the self.