A meditation on Anthony Weiner, upon the third iteration of a sexting scandal involving the former Democratic New York congressman and mayoral candidate.
1. It’s a compulsion, isn’t it? It must be. You know the old saying: Sext a strange woman once, then shame on you. Sext another woman later, then shame on you again. Sext yet another woman — once with your toddler-age son in the frame, in images obtained by the New York Post — then check in with your therapist and admit that this really isn’t funny anymore.
2. Actually, this is the story of a man with two compulsions. One is the compulsion to sext, which the Center for Internet Addiction cites as the most common online addiction, with the proliferation of “pocket porn” tied to the rise in mobile devices. The other is the compulsion to run for office. The first would be significantly easier to keep secret without the existence of the second. One assumes they might be related: Both combine an intense neediness for attention with an intense narcissism.
3. Thank God she left him this time. Huma Abedin, the glamorous Hillary Clinton aide whose long-suffering-wife status might be supplanted only by her boss’s, announced the news via public statement. “After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband,” she wrote. “During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy.”
4. Privacy. Is there a way we can give it to her, but not to him? He was the one who, in 2011, accidentally posted a picture of his junk on his public Twitter feed. He was the one whose second screw-up, in 2013, happened in the middle of his campaign for mayor of New York City. News conferences were held. More texts were produced, these to a woman named Sydney Leathers, resulting in a sexting scandal between two people with names that sounded like they were designed to end up in a sexting scandal.
“I love him, I believe in him, I have forgiven him,” Abedin said after that one. Privacy for Huma. All the privacy in the world for Huma. For him, no. None for him.
5. Carlos Danger. (Nothing further, your honor.)
6. This is the space where we are supposed to talk about how nobody knows what goes on in a marriage except for the two people in it. Except we are actually pretty sure we know what goes on in that marriage. Due to the Whac-a-Mole nature of the offenses — and to the fact that Weiner and Abedin were being followed around by a documentary film crew when the 2013 allegations arose — we have an unusually intimate glimpse into their marriage.
In “Weiner,” the documentary, Abedin dutifully supports her husband in public but privately breaks down. “Sorry, I can’t,” she finally tells him at one point, after he’s asked her to join him in obsessively reviewing footage from a television interview about his sexting. “I can’t,” she says again and leaves the room.
She can’t, but she does. Again and again, she does the “Good Wife” thing; again and again, he betrays their family and places her in the center of a media dart board. Maybe they have an arrangement about sexting. But they probably don’t have an arrangement about repeated public humiliation. That, the humiliation, is the only thing we know for sure about what goes on in their marriage, and that seems inexcusable.
7. Stolen from a friend on Twitter: “Anthony Weiner is proof that the Clintons don’t actually have people murdered.”
8. Oh good, Donald Trump is weighing in: “Huma is making a very wise decision,” the Republican presidential candidate said in his own statement. “I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him.” Sounds nice, right?
9. Oh wait, Donald Trump wasn’t done yet: “I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information,” he continued. “Who knows what he learned and who he told?” Sigh.
10. There was another scene in “Weiner” that, in retrospect, is even more heart-wrenching than the footage of Abedin bravely (foolishly?) standing by her husband at news conferences. Weiner and Abedin are in their kitchen. Each holds a jar of pasta sauce, reading the ingredients out loud, comparing which one has less sodium and laughing. It’s a moment that feels real. It feels like a marriage. Somewhere in the middle of all the jokes and Weinerisms is a real marriage dissolving.
11. Huma. Begone. Go live out the plot line of a Nancy Meyers romantic drama: Accomplished woman with beautiful wardrobe recuperates from heartbreak, drinks wine, eventually meets someone who looks like Jon Hamm.