In the real world of Queens and Brooklyn, however, Weiner looked a little different to his constituents on Tuesday. The code there might allow for “sexting,” his constituents said.
It doesn’t allow for lying or crying about it.
“Here, we forgive and forget pretty fast. But not like that,” said Tony Escobar, 35, who was working at a European men’s boutique called Anthony’s in Queens’s dense Forest Hills neighborhood. Escobar said that he never liked Weiner, but that he respected him — he had a “name” in Forest Hills as a guy who was responsible and real.
“From the beginning, he should have hid himself” if he couldn’t make himself tell the truth, Escobar said of the congressman. Escobar looked as sharp as the clothing store, in a sea-green shirt and a stylish haystack of gelled hair. His face bore a look of disgust. “But he lied.”
Weiner’s district runs from Queens south to Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay waterfront, through neighborhoods shared by recent immigrants, old-time residents and real-estate refugees from yuppie Manhattan.
In Forest Hills, you can buy a steak for $39 at a place so fancy its name includes odd punctuation: (aged.). Or you can walk around the corner to the T-Bone Diner (established in 1934) and order a sirloin for $16.95 — a price that includes soup, potatoes, coffee and a choice of pudding or jello.
Weiner grew up in Brooklyn, the son of a schoolteacher. Later, he was the political protege of Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a man of sharp elbows and serious media savvy. Weiner made his name here through intense retail politics: Old folks get their flu shots at his office, and regular folks remember meeting him in senior centers and neighborhood shops.
“I cut his hair. I’m not talking about him,” an angry hairstylist in Sheepshead Bay told a reporter who came calling about her wayward congressman.
But Weiner also succeeded on the force of his example. On the surface, he was a Queens mother’s dream: educated enough to succeed in the wider world, but able to retain the street smarts he learned as a kid.
On Tuesday, some in the district said they could forgive him for the pictures he sent to women electronically.
“He’s got a — waddayacallit? He’s got a flaw,” said Joseph Clark, 66, a transplanted Texan who has lived in Forest Hills for 13 years and was spending his noontime at the Tap House bar. Clark said he was reserving judgment about whether Weiner is finished as a politician.
“I think the real indicator is what his wife does,” Clark said, referring to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “If she stands with him, I think that has merit.”