It's taken me a few days to get over how pissed off I was when I first read it. Wednesday, November 11, 2009, The New York Times Headline: "View of the Mayor's Race From One Who Opted Out: I Could Have Won."
You know, when Anthony Weiner opted out of the 2009 Mayoral race many of us were very disappointed. When Bill Thompson came within 5 points of beating Bloomberg, the first thing most of us thought was, "Anthony Weiner could've won."
We figured he felt bad enough. So why say it?
But I'll be goddamned if he doesn't say it himself - not in a "Geeze, I'm sorry I let you all down, kind of way" but in the most careless, jokey, condescending way imaginable.
"They were afraid of me," he said of Mr. Bloomberg and his campaign aides.
Words cannot describe the obnoxious, insulting, self-important douche-iness of this post-election trash talk. But Congressman Weiner prattled on, propping himself up a told-you-so tough guy:
"I saw a way to beat Mike Bloomberg, but it was a narrow path," he said.
Wait. Way back in the beginning you saw a way to win, but decided not to run because it was ... hard? Let me ask you Congressman: You ever hear of Barack Obama? He took the exact opposite approach. He entered into a Presidential race against a powerful, well-funded, entrenched front-runner. His was a "narrow path." But he insisted the stakes were too high for him to think only of himself and his comfortable Senate career. He said he was motivated by "the fierce urgency of now." You were motivated by the fierce urgency of Anthony.
Here's a civics lesson. You don't enter elections for public office only if you are assured of victory. You enter because you want to serve people. You enter because you feel compelled to change things. Election campaigns function to enlighten and educate voters on what's wrong and how it can be fixed by you. You might win. You might lose. But you will serve the public by raising issues, challenging the opposing point of view and speaking truth to power. Bill Thompson was a lame, though good-natured, candidate running a lame campaign, unable to articulate a coherent vision for going forward. Yet he received 46% of the vote. That number was little or no reflection on Thompson. It showed the hunger that existed for another way in New York City; for alternative leadership. You were that guy, Congressman. But you were not interested in public service - in full-throated public dialogue. You were only concerned about your image.
The stunning Times piece by Michael Barbaro which read more like journalist fellatio than journalistic inquiry, presented Weiner's excuse for not running:
If he had run for mayor, his logic went, the Bloomberg campaign would have excoriated him when he missed a vote or skipped a committee hearing. ... "I would have to absent myself from my Washington responsibilities, which were really big and would have been really noticeable if I had not done them," Mr. Weiner said.
Being the elected leader of the City of New York is not "really big" and "really noticeable?" You think, people would've said "Anthony Wiener is an irresponsible public servant because he wants to serve as Mayor of New York instead of Congressman from New York?"
It's not until word 544 of the 739-word article that the tide of unseemly Weiner braggadocio is briefly stemmed:
Of course, skeptics would suggest that Mr. Weiner took a close look at the mayor's race and ducked it for another reason: He concluded that he could not win, and that a loss to Mr. Bloomberg, after a second-place finish in the Democratic primary in 2005, would be devastating to his ambitions.
Count me among the "skeptics." Because while Anthony Weiner canoodled with Hillary Clinton's top aide and bromanced Ben Affleck and juggled his "really big" Washington responsibilities, the people who elected him were trying to save their city. But nothing changed. So for 6 more years, we live here. We work here. We commute here. We shop here. We raise our kids here. You, Congressman, were and are absent from here.
That's why the thought of Congressman Weiner strutting around Thompson's election night party taking credit for "paving the way" for Thompson's near miss is the stuff of mystifying, stomach-churning hubris and entitlement. (Was Carly Simon's "Your So Vain" playing the ballroom? ... You probably think this song is about you. Don't you? Don't you? ...) Congressman, you didn't run. So shut your mouth and respect those who did. Yeah, you've done a lot for us Anthony. Son of a Brooklyn school teacher, blah, blah, bah. By the way Congressman, did you see what happened this week? We lost Coney Island.
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