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 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT