Anthony Weiner: How to Survive a Modern Sex Scandal

by Amanda Andries

Anthony Weiner is making a comeback to the political scene by weighing his prospects in the NYC Mayoral race. Photo Credit: By United States Congress via Wikimedia Commons

The public apparently has a great capacity for forgiveness: with the same fervor with which they cast biblical-sized judgement on the fallen, they are often willing to reinstate those people- if they own up to their mistakes, show that they want to change for the better and continue on with their professional pursuits.

Some of these phoenixes who fell notoriously from the public’s graces only to somehow rise out of the ashes (seemingly no worse for wear,) have been former president Bill Clinton, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and most recently, Appalachian trail hiker and politician Mark Sanford -who just won back his old congressional seat. All of these famous transgressors are now #WINNING.

So why don’t we add Anthony David Weiner to that list? Weiner, an aptly named democratic former U.S. Representative got caught up in one of the most embarrassing public sexting scandals, in 2011- a debacle known as Weinergate. But now he seems to be hoping that the public will forgive him and elect him Mayor of New York City.

In 2011 Weiner thought that he had sent a photograph of the torso of man wearing boxer briefs with an erection, to a 21-year-old college student in a private message. However Weiner instead had tweeted this image to all 45,000 of his followers. “I knew it was bad,” Weiner says in a recent NY Times tell-all article, “Huma was coming back from overseas, and I called her and left her a message. . . . I lied to her. The lies to everyone else were primarily because I wanted to keep it from her.””

Huma Abedin, Weiner’s glamorous wife is also a political heavyweight. She is a deputy chief of staff and aide to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and she was newly pregnant at the time of the scandal. (Coincidentally, Clinton has also gone through an eerily similar and epic scandal when her husband had an affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was in office.)

On June 23, 2011, Weiner resigned from Congress

So how does Weiner intend to put all of this right and gain absolution from New York City voters and Americans?

1. Admit Publicly That He Was Wrong and that He Wants to Change.

Weiner delayed his own progress back to redemption by denying and lying to the public, his wife and not owning up to his mistakes in the early days after the scandal broke.

But he did eventually come clean (two years later) and recently even admitted that there may be more sexts to be revealed. “If reporters want to go try to find more, I can’t say that they’re not going to be able to find another picture or find another . . . person,” the former congressman told RNN.

2. Fortify Familial Ties

Post-scandal, Weiner et al. went into lockdown and repair mode: Abedin admittedly had a very hard time dealing with the disaster, but they began working on their marriage and raising their son- with Weiner bearing the brunt of the parental duties, according to the NY Times article.

Now, they seem to be a normal couple again- facing the trials of life on a united front. They are popping up now with staccato glimpses into the spotlight – such as their 2012 People magazine photo shoot with their son, Jordan.

“I’m very happy in my present life,” Weiner, 47, told PEOPLE . “The only next dramatic steps I’m planning on are Jordan’s first.”

3. Lay Low and Take it Slow

Since Weiner’s Twitterpocalypse two years ago, he has been out of the public eye and has rarely spoken out, until recently. Now he’s even tweeting again!

Weiner is a savvy and fiery campaigner who could shake up NYC’s mayoral race. Photo Credit: By Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

4. See a therapist

As most public figures in his situation have done, Weiner sought help from a therapist shortly after his indiscretions were revealed to the world.

“Therapy wasn’t something that came naturally to me. I am this middle-class guy from Brooklyn, the men in our family don’t hug each other, we don’t talk about our feelings. It wasn’t a comfortable place to be. And now I start sentences with, ‘My therapist says. . . .,’ ” Weiner said in the Times piece. He went on to also talk frankly about the reasons behind his past behavior. “It was just something that technology made possible and it became possible for me to do stupid things. I mean, the thing I did, and the damage that I did, not only hadn’t it been done before, but it wasn’t possible to do it before.”

How very honest, forthcoming and relatable of him. Another step in the right direction and on the path to City Hall.

5. Test the Waters

It’s been revealed that Weiner’s political committee spent more than $100,000 on polling and research, and they utilized Obama’s polling guru, David Binder. The poll focussed on the question “Are voters willing to give him a second chance or not, regardless of what race or what contest?” Binder said. “There was this sense of ‘Yeah, he made a mistake. Let’s give him a second chance. But there are conditions on that, and there are a couple of things we’re going to want to know: What have you been doing since this incident occurred? Did you learn anything from this mistake? How did you deal with it?’ They want to know that they’ve put it behind them.”

Another poll by Business Insider and SurveyMonkey supports this revelation, and found that Americans are willing to forgive politicians who have extramarital affairs.

And even better for Weiner’s campaign, an April 16 Marist College poll showed that if Weiner entered the Mayoral race now he would be in second place behind Christine Quinn. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who has been “disgraced” and out of the spotlight.

6. Use all of Your Resources

With name recognition and big names in his corner- the Clintons— Weiner is powerfully poised.

He also reportedly has $4.3 million in his war chest (plus approximately $1.5 million in public matching funds if he runs in 2013). This would put him in very favorable financial place in the mayoral race and he wouldn’t want to let that go to waste. The deadline for all candidates to report their fund raising totals is May 15 and we are all waiting to see if Weiner’s totals will be on the list.

This could be the redemption he has been looking for.

With all the cleaning up that Weiner has been doing over the past two years, it looks like he may be on the crux of a comeback. And with the public willing to forgive his indiscretions and give him a second chance, Manhattan’s Mayoral race may finally be heating up with the addition of a familiar face.

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