Friday, August 26, 2016

A politician's lot is not a happy one

Aside from being an out of control sex addict, Anthony Weiner comes across in this film as the perfect candidate. He wanted the job of Mayor of New York City and he was willing to do whatever it took to try to win it. If you work in campaigns, that is what you want in a candidate -- a person who really believes that they are God's gift to the office being contested and who will to carry on day and night, despite exhaustion and personal indignities, to prevail. After all, if you are going to work as hard as staff works on a campaign, you might as well go all in.

If you are at all interested in campaigns, Weiner is a delight. Put aside for the moment that you are watching a man who destroyed his wife's dignity for a cheap ego high, and look at it as what running for office is really like. The guy had to make himself appear the answer to the discontents of a great, complex city and he was doing a decent job at it. At the same time, he rather successfully made his run for office seems the best party around in a town where parties are readily available. Footage of Weiner in the LGBT parade and in some kind of Caribbean festival is a joy.

But by lying to the press about his readily uncovered enthusiasm for texting pictures of his dick to admiring women, Weiner sabotaged his grand effort. His crumbling image probably made it possible for a much more creditable progressive, Bill de Blassio ,to win the job of mayor and take a run at some genuine progressive reforms.

Getting serious, the film highlights the disconnect that our electoral system almost ensures between the traits needed to win an election -- egotism and obsessive tenacity -- and the traits need to practice democratic governance -- self-restraint, wisdom, and humility.

When I think about the gulf between the necessary skill sets for running for office and exercising office, I am amazed that we ever select leaders who are more than needy egotists. Yet not infrequently, those who serve in public office do serve. Let's appreciate any who remember they are there for the common good. It's not an easy role.
There seems to be a current controversy over whether Huma Abedin, Weiner's put upon wife, really agreed to the making of this amazing film, but the documentary leaves no doubt that she must have been a willing subject.

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