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Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner — nowhere to be found in person — has, instead of facing the moment of announcement, released an introductory campaign video that in many ways combines a series of political-commercial clichés.
There’s the "just-a-middle-class kid" background that he trotted out eight years ago when he ran for mayor and lost in 2005. He’s sitting in front of a house in Brooklyn where he no longer lives. Where he does live now, on Park Avenue — not flagged — Weiner tells you the best part of his day is with his family. This begs the question if he likes spending time with his family that much, and brags in a Times story about how much money he’s making, why is he running for mayor — as well as darker questions.
His wife Huma Abedin is introduced visually, and addresses us at the end of the commercial calling him “Anthony.” The implicit messages is she's forgiven him. Who cares? For those who don’t already know, she’s been a close aide to former secretary of state and possible future presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. We don’t know what she’ll be doing in months ahead.
This isn’t the first mayoral run announced Wizard of Oz-style, with no in-person appearance, sheltered like a suspect against even the easiest and most obvious questions. Mayor Michael Bloomberg did in 2001 — and even avoided and blew off one reporter who caught up with him while it was launched on TV. Bloomberg was in New Jersey at the time.
It was a high-comedy mark in what seemed at the time like an unlikely effort. So you never know.
In Congress, where it is still a real question of what exactly he accomplished, Weiner tags his name on to what he “fought” for which were collective Democratic enactments — Zadroga bill, more money for police, health care legislation. But unlike the mayoralty, one makes a name in Congress for collaborative efforts. The question perhaps still to be assessed is whether he was collegial, or more of a prima donna, whether he led or followed, fought or was cosseted.
The ad contains the minimalist apology. “Look I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down.” He shakes his head “no” while he’s saying this — one of those classic tells that came out less than two years ago when he was denying that he sent out those sexting messages. He tells you he’s learned valuable lessons and has been fighting for middle-class families his whole life. How? Via ‘roid range when trapped in a still-unexplained lie?
We're waiting to see what kind of questions he will be willing to answer as the campaign proceeds.