Yes, Anthony Weiner can make a political comeback. In fact, via the People magazine trial balloon, it's already under way. To the skeptics the following argument is made.
- If Washington Mayor Marion Barry, seemingly caught on tape by the Feds smoking crack in a hotel room with a female friend can be elected mayor AGAIN of the nation's capital, (I will never forget Ted Koppell interrupting national prime time TV coverage to show actual video of the mayor of Washington apparently smoking crack), why in the world wouldn't Weiner be able to make a return?
- Do we forget the house actually voted to impeach President Bill Clinton and he is now one of the most beloved figures throughout the world?
I have covered Weiner up close for more than 15 years, often interviewed him on live television on NY1 News, and even moderated a debate for mayor a few years back that included Weiner. (It was widely considered that Weiner won the four-way 2005 debate with his personality and witty one-liners. Here is how the New York Times covered the debate.) The debate in effect ended the political career of City Council Speaker Gifford Miller with a lightning round of questions where candidates could only respond with a Yes or No answer, and started Weiner's rise to prominence in becoming a front runner for mayor. Fast forward to last week: I made the argument on RNN-TV (The Richard French Live Show) that Weiner is coming back, and even this week.
Weiner can't be elected mayor of New York right away. Democratic contenders for mayor would eat him alive with criticism. They would initially run a rose garden strategy against Weiner, ignoring him at first, but when it came down to crunch time, could you imagine the TV commercials?
However, there is a path where yes, Anthony Weiner could possibly be elected mayor of the great city of New York.
Right now, some of you across the country are asking what am I smoking, but here's the point. Remember Weiner was a tremendous fighter in Congress for the middle class. He could bring that part of his reputation, and more importantly his $4.5 million campaign war chest right into the contest to be elected Public Advocate of New York. Weiner would certainly have the most name recognition by far of any of the candidates. Of course, that cuts both ways and can be polarizing. However, if Weiner does a good job as public advocate, that's only a heartbeat away from being mayor. In fact the position is first in line to succeed the mayor, should something happen to the mayor of NY. If Weiner shines as public advocate, and he would, then he has changed the narrative, and can run for mayor.
As far as his "sexting" scandal ... Americans have "been there, done that" before. Certainly New Yorkers have.
First thing that comes to mind is Rudy Giuliani's nasty divorce. Giuliani, in full public view, wanted to move his wife out of the taxpayer-funded residence for the mayor so he could move in his mistress. That woman, Judith Nathan, is now Rudy's wife. Giuliani went on to become America's Mayor for his handling of 911 and to run a credible campaign for president where at one time he was the front runner.
It's important to keep in mind that Weiner's scandal wasn't constituent driven -- it was the non-stop focus of a tabloid media and the cover-up that was much worse than the crime. Weiner would be page one for a few days, and then the press would move on, returning to Weiner from time to time.
Also keep in mind that after Hillary Clinton lost the hotly contested democratic primary for president to Barack Obama, there was talk that she was finished with politics -- that it came down to the first woman or African American president, and Hillary lost. The talk was that she would be too old to be elected now. Hillary Clinton vowed she was done with politics, but she kept her head down, and worked extremely hard as Secretary of State, to the point where even Republicans praise her. Hillary Clinton changed the narrative, and now she may be the leading Democrat for president in 2016. The country may have its first African American and woman president after all. (Sooner rather than later.)
Weiner's situation may very well come down to "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Americans are forgiving.
Some may not like it, but Weiner's comeback is underway.