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 3:18 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Frida Ghitis says as violence claims three U.S. doctors, the temptation is to despair, but aid to Afghanistan has made it a much better place
updated 2:33 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says in California, Asian-Americans are against the use of racial criteria in public colleges.
updated 2:44 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Heidi Schlumpf says if the Pope did tell an Argentinian woman married to a divorced man that she could take Communion, it may signify a softening of church rules on the divorced and sacraments
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Norcross, Georgia, Chief of Police Warren Summers says the new law that allows guns in bars, churches and schools will have unintended dangerous consequences.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Mel Robbins says social media is often ruled by haters, and people can be brutally honest.
updated 12:44 PM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Mike Downey says the golf purists can take a hike; the game needs radical changes to win back fans and players.
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 7:04 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT