The phallible Anthony Weiner

Al Kamen
Columnist April 24, 2013

A possible political comeback for former congressman Anthony Weiner hinges largely on whether voters can put aside the scandal a couple of years ago in which the New York Democrat tweeted a picture of his underwear-clad crotch (a recap: the pic was intended for a woman who wasn’t his wife, but instead went public; scandal/resignation ensued).

His cause isn’t helped by his easily punnable name and his hometown tabloids’ excitable headline writers, as our colleague Chris Cillizza has noted — but Weiner isn’t doing himself any favors on this score, either.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Since returning to Twitter last week, Weiner’s been tweeting links to a brochure he wrote titled “Keys to the City,” in which he outlines ideas for shoring up New York City’s middle class. The 20-page document appears to be a slightly edited version of one he published in 2008, with a few tweaks.

One smart change was to remove the double-entendre word “impotent” from the text. But it’s what he left in that may be problematic. The graphic on the cover depicts an outline of the Empire State Building jutting into the title. Above that central image is a photo of the monument in the center of NYC’s Columbus Circle.

Those distinctively shaped structures may be visual reminders of the, ahem, anatomy that starred in the former congressman’s scandal.


Anthony Weiner been tweeting links to a brochure he wrote titled “Keys to the City,” in which he outlines ideas for shoring up New York’s middle class. (Anthony Weiner)

Rob Arnow , a New York-based graphic designer, says Weiner could have opted to highlight a less-giggle-inducing symbol of the city, perhaps the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty. But at a minimum, he says, the designer might have avoided running text up the side of the building, thus calling even more attention to it.

“On balance, New York has a lot of suggestive imagery in its icons,” Arnow tells us. “I’m not sure that simply using the elements he did is the most relevant thing — I think it’s more the way they’re shown.”

Weiner, responding to our ­e-mail inquiry, only noted that “the logo is the same as was used in an earlier edition of the book.”

True, but that was then . . .

Reading is fundamental

Sen. Ted Cruz seemed surprised to learn during a hearing Tuesday that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had managed to slog through all 844 pages of the new immigration bill.

He, on the other hand, apparently was finding it harder to digest such a long read in the six days since its sponsors had released it. That seems a bit odd.

Cruz, after all, has an undergrad degree from Princeton and graduated from Harvard Law. And the immigration bill? Well, it isn’t really all that long.

And bear in mind that bill text isn’t like pages of a novel — or even those of a standard document. The font is bigger, the margins are wider, and there are big spaces in between relatively short paragraphs. So how many words are in the bill?

We pasted the text into a Microsoft Word document, which said it contains 161,346. And that includes a number on each line — so if you subtract those, you get roughly 140,000 words.

That’s fewer than in most of the Harry Potter books. Heck, it’s only a quarter of those in “War and Peace.”

We figure Cruz should be able to blaze through the equivalent of a mainstream kids’ book in six days — especially since he presumably has a crack staff at his disposal that can summarize the more technical parts.

But we take his point: Senators are busy! So for the particularly time-crunched legislator, may we suggest that bill sponsors release audio versions of their measures so that their colleagues might listen to them while on the treadmill or on long flights?

Maybe enlist James Earl Jones to embue it with some gravitas?

Moderately interesting

Former senator Olympia Snowe’s new book is a call for the civility she says is missing from modern politics. No wonder, then, that she doesn’t follow the usual Washington template of using a memoir as an opportunity to dish on what you really thought of all those chumps who wronged you.

The Maine Republican’s “Fighting for Common Ground”offers little in the way of the kind of slights we relish reading in Beltway tell-alls. But this anecdote about the bruising business of being a moderate Republican (particularly in the lead-up to the Obamacare vote) is an exception: Snowe describes how during one of the markups of the bill, she tripped over a staffer’s leg and fell — hard.

She was “bruised and sore” but unharmed (as was the cup of coffee she was holding), she writes. “The fall was so hard, however, that it prompted Chairman [Max] Baucus and also Senators Jay Rockefeller and Blanche Lincoln to follow me back to the anteroom to ask if I was all right.”

Weeks later, prompted by a reporter’s question, she recalled that not one Republican in the room had bothered to ask whether she was okay.

Politics is a contact sport, after all.

More personnel notes

Two more senior State Department officials are preparing to leave the already hollowed-out top ranks at Foggy Bottom.

Robert Hormats, undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment, is said to be moving on around mid-June after four years on the job.

Hormats has held numerous senior economic and trade positions, starting with Richard Nixon’s National Security Council. He was also deputy U.S. trade rep in the Jimmy Carter administration and an assistant secretary of state in the Ronald Reagan administration before joining Goldman Sachs as vice chairman (international).

We hear he’s taking some time off before deciding what to do next, either here or in New York.

The undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, Tara Sonenshine, is leaving in July after 15 months in the job, probably for an academic or media gig.The Emmy Award-winning former editorial producer of ABC News’s “Nightline” also worked on Bill Clinton’s National Security Council and was more recently executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace.


With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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