The public has been saying goodbye to Anthony Weiner — and then hello again and goodbye again — for five years, ever since his lies about sexting forced him from Congress.
It was odd how Weiner mustered so much attention throughout his time as a Democratic politician of modest achievement.
And then as a disgraced public figure.
And then as a testy “comeback” candidate for mayor.
And then as a local TV talker.
But wife Huma Abedin’s longtime role as top aide to Hillary Clinton did allow him to have impact of a sort.
In fact, Weiner accomplished passively what many a Republican operative failed to do actively.
He made Team Clinton cringe — over and over again.
Now the couple is reportedly separating after Weiner’s latest indulgences in the hobby that made him famous.
The embarrassment may not matter in the national election, but the timing is less than lucky for Clinton.
Weiner’s latest exposure in the New York Post arrived during a lull in the news cycle as Donald Trump prepared to clarify his muddled stance of immigration policy and as Clinton drew renewed fire over the sprawling family foundation.
It allowed Trump to garner big coverage with this statement: “Huma is making a very wise decision. . . . I know Anthony Weiner well, and she will be far better off without him.
“I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information.
“Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.”
Clinton aide Joel Benenson on CNN called Trump’s statement “another one of the outlandish things this man tosses about,” such as the tweet citing a Chicago woman’s shooting death to suggest African-Americans will vote for him.
“This is what he does,” Benenson said. “He thinks everything is about him, his political opportunism.”
Despite the clear hyperbole of Trump’s alarms, the mere placement of Abedin in the campaign spotlight has to rattle Clinton-land again.
Only recently, controversial emails surfaced between Doug Band, a Bill Clinton aide, and Abedin, outlining an intersection between the charity and the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s tenure.
In 2012, while designated a “special government employee,” she took paying jobs with the Clinton Foundation and with Band’s Teneo Holdings consulting firm, which has international clients.
Beyond these gnarly facts, Abedin has proved a lightning rod for right-wing activists.
Pro-Trump publications and websites have gone full-bore spreading suspicion around her Pakistan-born mother’s editorship of a Muslim publication out of Saudi Arabia, the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs.
Four years ago, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann suggested Abedin had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called an “unwarranted and unfounded attack” on a “loyal servant of our country and our government.”
Whatever effect it all has, Weiner’s devotion to his hobby has generated a new politically charged round of eyeballs, clicks, video and news summaries about the woman who has finally decided to announce a separation from him.
Two months and a week remain until Election Day.
If you wish to view it as political strategy, Abedin’s move to split up makes her sound like a baseball manager who waited to change pitchers until after the other team scored 14 runs.