Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Wiener, from joke to mayor?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 9:53 AM EDT, Fri May 24, 2013
Your hosts for CNN's weekly podcast
Your hosts for CNN's weekly podcast "The Big Three," from left: John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN Radio podcast features CNN Opinion contributors on top three stories
  • Dean Obeidallah: Guest Jim Gaffigan offers parenting advice to Hoover, Avlon, parents-to-be
  • They discuss Oklahoma Congressmen's hypocrisy in accepting tornado aid
  • They take on Bloomberg's comment that plumbing might be better for some than college

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- Will New Yorkers elect a punchline as mayor?

Anthony Weiner's entry into the New York City race for mayor was one of the issues we discussed with comedian Jim Gaffigan, our guest this week on the CNN weekly podcast "The Big Three," co-hosted by CNN's Margaret Hoover, John Avlon and myself.

Jim, who many know from his Comedy Central specials and his numerous appearances on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and "Conan," also talked with us about his new book "Dad Is Fat" (No. 5 on The New York Times' Best Sellers List), in which he writes about the adventures of raising five young children with his wife in a midsized New York City apartment.

Jim offered some very funny yet helpful advice to my co-hosts, who are married to each other and expecting their first child this summer. Jim offered particularly instructive guidance for how Margaret and John can cope with their expected son's most traumatizing day: His circumcision.

To listen to the podcast, click on the Soundcloud audio player above. Or find it on iTunes.

But back to Anthony Weiner: For those of you who missed it, in 2011 the former congressman texted pictures of his private parts to women, lied about it, had to resign.

We all agreed his mayoral bid can't simply be dismissed as a joke. In fact, a new poll has him in second place in the mayoral race, and he has close to $4 million in his campaign chest. Weiner might just win this race --assuming he has figured out the proper way to use Twitter.

In the podcast, we also tackled two other issues that sparked heated discussions and had unexpected results.

The first was political hypocrisy in the response to the Oklahoma tornado.

Certainly all elected officials expressed their condolences and support for the people who suffered as a result of this devastating natural disaster. But we saw some Republican members of Congress from Oklahoma -- most notably Sen. James Inhofe -- now supporting federal disaster relief for the people of their state.

But these same people opposed supporting federal aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy, which hit in October. This wasn't lost on a fellow Republican, Rep. Peter King of New York. He called them out -- and caused me, probably for the first time in my life, to agree with something King said.

Our biggest debate on this issue, though, was over the role the federal government should play in helping people after a natural disaster.

Margaret said federal government shouldn't be the primary source of funding for these people, arguing that instead the government can be a facilitator, seeking and encouraging private funds and donations to provide assistance. In contrast, I strongly believe that the federal government should be leading and funding the relief effort so that people in need are helped as quickly as possible.

Our third big issue was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's comment this week that if you weren't at the top of your class in high school, you shouldn't waste the money and time on college and instead you should become "a plumber."

As John noted, this sentiment echoed a 2012 statement by former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who mocked President Barack Obama as being a "snob" for saying he wanted everyone to go to college. Instead, Santorum believed that some should forget college and instead pursue jobs that require using your hands.

While we all agreed that the costs of a college education now border on the obscene, we did not agree on what was causing the hike in tuition prices. But there was no dispute that anyone who dreams of going to college and has graduated high school should have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

A college education not only increases a person's knowledge, it results in more employment opportunities and better wages.

In fact, people with less than a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 12.4%. In contrast, the unemployment rate of those with a four-year college degree is only 4.5%, well below the national unemployment rate of 7.5%.

We hope you check out this week's episode of "The Big Three." We would love to hear your thoughts on the podcast and the issues we raised.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT