Anthony Weiner and the freak show as fable

Weiner is the poster boy for a subspecies of lawmakers who are really noisemakers, maestros of the cable-ready kerfuffle, their sights set on MSNBC or Fox News or Politico, their need for notice constant. He’s a fun house mirror of narcissism in politics, and his demand that total strangers ogle his anatomy in cyberspace was in some sense a sick-joke version of other politicians’ thrill at the sounds of their voices and their addiction to applause. He contains multitudes: John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Eliot Spitzer and, yes, Bill Clinton.

It’s a short line from Weiner to Ted Cruz, once you edit out the erotica. Does Cruz throw so many bombs out of high-minded ideological purity, or because he’s learned that all the disruptive explosions turn heads (and headlines) his way? I’m going with the Pavlovian explanation, because he certainly doesn’t seem to be getting, or trying to get, much of anything done. His assertiveness, like Weiner’s, is an end in itself.

Weiner’s is also the story of how insular, incestuous and rife with unsavory favor trading the world of politics can be. To heed the accounts that he and Huma Abedin themselves have given, they wound up together partly because she was a workaholic with little time for dating and he was there, there, there, smack in front of her, sympathetic to her degree of intensity, indulgent of her kind of ambition…

The latest phase of the Weiner campaign is a case study in political coarseness. The Clintons signal that Weiner and Abedin are no echo of them, forgetting how serially reckless Bill’s own philandering was. Weiner says outright that he doesn’t care what people living in the Westchester County suburbs (i.e., the Clintons’ home) think. Morgan, the spokeswoman, denigrates Nuzzi, the intern, by characterizing her as oversexed and attention-hungry. This, without irony, from a flack for Weiner.