A day after the painful press conference where he acknowledged more online misconduct, Anthony Weiner is already back to working rooms full of "rapturous" voters. The reaction I experienced to this photo of him — speaking commandingly into a microphone, arm gesturing authoritatively over head — can be concisely summed up in one word: Stop.
Seriously, stop. Yes, the point of an election is to disqualify candidates we don't want to see in office as much as it is to vote for those we wish to represent us. But because of the way Anthony Weiner's New York City mayoral run hurts numerous people, it sends the wrong message to everyone.
After Weiner joined the mayoral race this spring, the women involved in the 2011 scandal were thrust back into the spotlight, re-receiving the full-force attention from media, online enemies, colleagues, and families that had previously faded.
“Every new headline and news story about him reminds reporters and bloggers that we exist, and the cycle starts all over,” Ginger Lee, a former adult film star and another of the women with whom Weiner communicated, said in a statement released by her lawyer. “There will be a new flare-up of jokes, inaccurate statements and hurtful remarks.”
Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Anthony Weiner has cracked jokes about his social media use. "You know how much I trust Twitter," he quipped at a candidate forum. Though he doesn't fully appreciate the consequences of what he has done, he does understand one thing: He is a man in a position of power. He has used his power to exploit young women, time and time again. Like other women who engaged in sexting with Weiner, Syndey Leathers, the latest name tied to the scandal, initially reached out to him because she admired his political work.
Leathers is identified in her Twitpic account as an Obama For America field organizer. Weiner promised her, in addition to a condominium in Chicago, a job at Politico. Leathers is certainly not innocent, but Weiner's proclivity to flatter women with his attention, switch the subject matter from politics to sex, and then entice them with things like high-powered jobs catered to their ambitions is an abuse of power.
These women don't get a comeback. By saying that Weiner does, we give him yet another chance to exploit his authority. If he didn't learn from his resignation, how will he possibly learn from being elected to a prominent political office? The people of New York City (and the country) should not have to spend time and energy reading about more of their mayor's online activities weeks or months down the line. We should instead be hearing about new initiatives and game-changing policy.
Which brings me to a final point about the nature of Weiner's philandering. Yesterday, I heard the argument that millennials are among those who won't care about Leathers' statement because as a generation, we are electronic users desensitized to the scandalous nature of digital interactions like sexting.
Desensitized, sure. But I would argue that we are, or should be, more critical of Weiner's actions, because we understand the intricacies involved. Only 10 percent of 14 to 24-year-olds report ever texting a nude photo. My guess is that this number is so low because we are hyper-aware of the ease of sharing and spreading such photos, in part because of tragic stories of girls who turned to suicide after their sexts were circulated among bullying peers.
Anthony Weiner is a married man and a seasoned politician who had no business sending sexts to female strangers. He should spend time actually learning from his mistakes, not being rewarded for them with another office of power.