Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Why Anthony Weiner's problem is ours, too

By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst
updated 11:30 AM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 23, to address explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website. Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 23, to address explicit online exchanges that were published by a gossip website.
HIDE CAPTION
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
Weiner addresses lewd exchanges
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gloria Borger: When Weiner left Congress, we assumed he would deal with problems
  • Instead, he posed as Carlos Danger, risking further personal, political problems, she says
  • Borger says it's more than a private matter since he's running for New York mayor
  • She says Weiner is unable to tell the complete truth to those who deserve it

(CNN) -- Let me just start by saying this: Redemption, political or otherwise, is a good thing. And by and large, voters are amenable to proffering forgiveness -- especially when they believe the candidate is making a good-faith effort to reform, atone and emerge as a chastened and wiser person.

And so it was with Anthony Weiner, the erstwhile sexter who left Congress in disgrace two years ago to work on his problem, his life and his marriage.

At least that's what we thought he was doing, until we learned this week that -- one full year after he resigned from Congress -- he was still sending explicit text messages to a young woman. Maybe there are more.

New Yorkers react to Weiner's scandal

We don't know the full story, and honestly, it's hard to say whether we ever will, or how much we should care. But here is what we do know, and this does matter: That Weiner is running for mayor of New York, and that in preparing us for his candidacy in April, he cleverly alluded to the fact that there were more texts with other women. "I did it, with more than one person," he said. "It was wrong. I was doing it for some time, and I'm glad it's behind me."

Gloria Borger
Gloria Borger

What we didn't know was it wasn't that far behind him. In Weiner's efforts to inoculate himself against further women coming out, he left the timing of his inappropriate behavior vague. He knew that most of us would assume that, once he resigned from Congress in disgrace, he was fully involved in recovery, trying to regain his identity.

An Anthony Weiner timeline

Instead, he was masquerading as Carlos Danger.

And he was trolling as this bon vivant at least a full year after he left office.

So while he has been making the case that his family's love, support -- and therapy -- has gotten him to a good place, he kind of forgot to tell us one key fact: His sexual misconduct did not end with his resignation from office. Silly us for assuming that? Or silly us for allowing him to let us believe that? All of which begs the question: Why believe him now?

Enter Huma Abedin, his smart, savvy, politically connected (especially to the Clintons) wife. It was breathtaking to see her Tuesday next to Weiner. Not only standing beside him as The Good Wife but also speaking directly to voters. "I have forgiven him," she told us. "I believe in him." Indeed, she said, the decision to keep the marriage together "took a lot of work" and "a whole lot of therapy."

Opinion: Why does Abedin put up with Weiner?

I am sure it did, and we should respect her decision -- both to stand by her man and to speak. But here's one question: Is running for mayor a required part of couples therapy? This should be a private matter. But once Weiner threw his hat in the ring, asking for redemption, it became a lot less private. The couple participated in a very orchestrated PR rollout -- with interviews in The New York Times Magazine and People magazine, discussing their personally difficult journey. And we seem to be on it with them, like it or not.

Weiner's problem is not just about his personal compulsions. It's also about his inability to tell the complete truth to the people he is asking to redeem and forgive him.

When he was first caught in the sexting scandal, it took him what seemed like forever to fess up -- after lying, and saying he had been hacked. And now, while hinting last spring there were other women, he never actually said his sexting did not stop when he left Congress. He says it's behind him now. Thanks for that.

Eliot Spitzer, who is trying to manage his own political redemption as he runs for New York City comptroller, was no doubt thrilled to be asked about Weiner. He deflected the question, as if to imply—as others have—that it's a personal matter, between Weiner and his wife. Sad to say, it no longer is.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gloria Borger.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT