The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Anthony Weiner is winning the New York City mayor’s race

Whether or not Anthony Weiner can actually win the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York this fall -- we tend to think he probably can't -- he is already winning in one way: He's back at the center of attention for something other than sending pictures of his man parts to random women on Twitter.

Witness this terrific story by BuzzFeed's Ruby Cramer about Weiner's Memorial Day spent on the campaign trail.

"When Weiner finally arrives, the parking lot comes alive. A flock of reporters circle round, and seemingly on cue, band members start practicing their drumrolls, as the crowd outside Duane Reade thickens." (Extra points for the Duane Reade reference!)

Later, she writes:

"He is in high spirits — never mind Love’s comments and others that come throughout the day; never mind the press scrutiny, which he appears to relish, or the reporters camped unfailingly outside his Park Avenue apartment; never mind that none of his former colleagues or friends in politics, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, haven’t so much as offered a word of support for his campaign; never mind that you’d be hard-pressed to get a single member of New York’s smart set to say he can win."

Cramer's story -- as well as this great piece by the one and only Maggie Haberman of Politico -- provide the central insight into the most-asked question in the wake of Weiner's announcement that he is running for office again.

The  answer? He needs to. Literally. As in, Anthony Weiner isn't Anthony Weiner if he isn't in front of people, asking for their votes or representing them in some way. He is  defined in some not-significant measure by how people regard him.  He thrives off of the energy and approval of others.

Weiner is not alone in this trait. In fact, more politicians possess it than don't. Bill Clinton is the archetype. It's how/why John Edwards could justify running for president (and seeking the vice presidency) while carrying on an extramarital affair. (Interestingly, neither of the last two presidents have been of this model.) And so on.

Viewed through that lens, Weiner is already getting what he wants/needs out of the race. He is relevant again in the political conversation. He's engaging with voters.  He's bantering with reporters. He's back to being Anthony Weiner. And, that, ultimately, is why he Weiner ran. And it's why -- win or, probably, lose -- he'll run again.