On Aug. 16, nearly two weeks before news would break about his third sexting scandal to date, ex-congressman Anthony Weiner appeared as the subject of a light-hearted interview in The New York Times Magazine with Mark Leibovich. In the interview, Weiner referred openly to his then-two-scandal track record and his then-current job as a consultant, as well as his supposed prowess at being a pundit. Of course, the publicity he's received in the past 24 hours has shifted drastically, making Weiner's New York Times interview so ironic.
A consultant's job, of course, is to give advice. The thought of someone who had, at the time, been publicly shamed twice for the same embarrassing scandal giving advice is in itself ironic, which is perhaps why the article's headline — "Anthony Weiner Thinks He's Pretty Good At Giving Advice" — comments on Weiner's supposed confidence in his ability to advise. Weiner himself notes this irony when asked why he doesn't manage campaigns, to which he replies that "no one would want me." And really, he wasn't wrong.
In hindsight, this irony becomes almost absurd. That the Times Magazine chose to run a short puff piece on a has-been former politician whose claim to fame was that he sent photos of himself in his boxers to strange women twice (and now, three times) is equally absurd. But with his (now separated) wife Huma Abedin in the headlines for her relationship to the Clintons, I suppose some people were wondering about her husband.
This first article was followed up by an addendum on Aug. 19, also published by Leibovich in the Times Magazine, to add context to what was, it seems, a deceptively cheery profile. The addendum came after the Times caught wind of what would become Weiner's third sexting scandal, then only rumors.
There are two quotes, one in the first part of the interview and one in the second, that really sum up the bizarre and ironic nature of this sexting-separation-documentary scandal. In the Aug. 16 article, Weiner, when asked if he was still "engaging in the activities" that got him in trouble, told the interviewer: "I'm not going to go down the path of talking about any of that." This irony doesn't need to be spelled out — we know now, like an audience in a film that takes place in flashbacks, how this story plays out.
It's the end of the Aug. 19 article, however, that really gets me. After a strangely-detailed exposition of a minor collision outside the Democratic National Convention (where the interview took place), the writer describes a meeting between Weiner and a former colleague. Weiner shakes hands with his former colleague, and jokingly says "Hi, I'm Anthony Weiner. I used to be somebody."
In late July, when the interview actually happened, it was true that Weiner "used to be somebody." On Aug. 19, it was still true. But on Aug. 30, Weiner has once again been unwillingly thrust into the limelight for the "activities" that had gotten him "in trouble" twice before. And now, his advice is going to be really difficult to take seriously.