There’s little to be happy about in the sordid, still unfolding story of New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. Unless you’re Eliot Spitzer.
Former New York Governor Spitzer, you recall, is the former governor because a year into his administration he was found to have paid several high-priced call girls for their services. It was a violation of law and a massive error in judgment. He slowly re-emerged publicly, first as a CNN commentator and talk show host, and recently as a candidate for New York City comptroller. Spitzer is asking for voters’ forgiveness, making the case that he deserves a second chance at elective office. As of this writing, he’s leading in the polls.
Former Representative Anthony Weiner, also a victim of lack of self-control, was leading in polls as well–a week ago. Then new revelations of additional online sexual relationships appeared and Weiner held a press conference to essentially say, “I already told you there would be reports of more incidents. My wife is OK with it, and so you should be, too.” A day later we learned that these online conversations continued for a year after Weiner resigned from Congress. His poll numbers in the race for mayor are dropping rapidly.
Journalists, commentators and politicians have cleverly used the phrase “weapons of mass distraction” to describe constructing an issue to divert attention from another. This was the plot of the darkly comic David Mamet screenplay/Barry Levinson film “Wag the Dog”. An imaginary threat of war was created to sidetrack voters’ focus on a presidential sex scandal just before Election Day. “We don’t need it to prove out,” says spin doctor Conrad Brean, played by Robert DeNiro. “We need it to distract them for two weeks til the election.” The scheme works.
Anthony Weiner’s scandal has taken Eliot Spitzer’s scandal out of the news. In fact, Spitzer’s misguided liaisons are looking far less horrific when compared with Weiner’s. The former governor should thank his lucky stars that the former congressman has become his personal weapon of mass distraction. Your thoughts?