Checking in with Anthony Weiner

Ben Smith caught up with Anthony Weiner recently and found the disgraced former congressman and convicted sex offender has given up plotting a return to politics. At this point, Weiner realizes he’s lucky to find any kind of work. That’s especially true because one of the most powerful people in his party still blames him for her White House loss in 2016:

After he left public life in 2013, he slipped from compulsion into crime, and the saga broadened from damage to his own life to the nation’s. In January 2016, he began exchanging explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl. After the texts were reported in September 2016, prosecutors seized his laptop computer. And then, 11 days before the presidential election, the F.B.I. director, James Comey, wrote a letter to Congress saying that new emails discovered on Mr. Weiner’s computer had prompted him to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Weeks later, as Democrats tried to understand how Donald J. Trump had been elected president, Mr. Weiner came in for some of the blame. He was the butterfly who flapped his, er, wings and led to the election of Mr. Trump. Mr. Weiner said he believes, in retrospect, that there were larger forces at play in that campaign and that if it hadn’t been the emails, Mr. Trump’s supporters would have seized on something else. And indeed, Trump-like figures have been elected all over the world. It wasn’t just Mr. Weiner.

But his own skepticism that he was the fatal butterfly “is complicated by the fact that that’s what Hillary thinks,” he said. (“I wouldn’t call it a net positive,” a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, told me.)

This theory that Weiner was at least partly responsible for Clinton’s loss isn’t the craziest one out there. In fact, it was at least arguably more significant than the Russian interference in the election which Democrats and the media spent years obsessing over.

On the other hand, Hillary blamed so many things for her loss—misogyny, Russia, James Comey, the DNC, her own inevitability campaign— that it’s hard to take any one complaint too seriously. Hillary always seemed very eager to place the blame anywhere but on herself.

As for Weiner’s future, he’s aware that he really doesn’t have one. He’s currently shopping a book about sex addiction and he’s considered trying to profit in other ways off his own downfall:

People sometimes yell at him from passing cars (and on Twitter), “Where’s your laptop?!” The device, which is in his closet, was ultimately not found to contain anything incriminating about Mrs. Clinton. But it retains a certain infamy.

“I’m wondering if I should call up the MyPillow guy and offer to sell him the laptop,” he mused, referring to Mike Lindell, the bedding entrepreneur and Trump loyalist who has promoted wild theories about the Clintons.

He is thinking more seriously — really seriously — about the 2021 version of that transaction: getting into the booming business of digital collectibles, known as nonfungible tokens or NFTs, and starting with some of his own holdings.

Would someone pay big money to own an NFT of Weiner’s tweet about being hacked? Maybe someone would but there’s also a sense in which Anthony Weiner just doesn’t matter very much anymore. He was the party’s AOC before the left-wing of the party went full socialist, but now he’s just too embarrassing to mention. Whatever he was a decade ago, he’s never going to be that again. Now he’s just a guy selling environmentally sustainable countertops. He should offer every customer a very loyal toaster.

This clip is from last October.