Weiner (2016): Part 1 of 2
Director: Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg
Cinematographer: Josh Kriegman
Producer: Christopher Clements, Elizabeth Delaune Warren, Julie Goldman, Carolyn Hepburn, and Sean McGing
by Jon Cvack
Before the scandal, I recall seeing Anthony Weiner on an episode of The Daily Show. Him and Jon Stewart were old college buddies, and aside from friendly banter, like many I felt as though I was seeing the future of the Democratic Party. He was a guy who was willing to fight for what he believed in - a common weakness in Democrats, who often resort to placation and conciliation rather than battle. I wasn’t sure if the guy and his passion would ever be presidential material, but he reflected the future of progressive politics. Following Stewart, he attended Bill Maher’s Real Time panel, exhibiting all of the same charisma and passion.
Then the scandal broke.
I was anxious to see how Stewart handled the issue, which was making headlines all across the country. Americans love a lecherous politician, as it seems that it pulls down these pillars of perfection, showing them just as flawed as the common man. Given that Anthony Weiner has repeated his sexting antics, not just once, but three times after, and with increased creepiness, with the latest involving an underage girl while Weiner took pictures of himself next to his young child in bed. While I agreed with the early punditry in that Weiner was not the first to experiment with infidelity, and that it shouldn’t necessarily tarnish all the great things he has accomplished, Weiner shows the other side of the body politic, in how much narcissism it takes to run and hold the office.
I can’t recall where I first heard the idea, but either through a podcast or editorial, I recall hearing how a narcissistic personality is almost necessity of the job. Having recently watched Street Fight, where a young 30-something Cory Booker pounds the pavement to dethrone the fifteen year incumbent mayor, battling against a corrupt Goliath-sized system, where Booker had to give into many of his previous reservations; offering free gifts, dinners, and run negative ads, knowing that in city politics, such things are a requirement. Watching someone marching around the streets, encountering endless doors getting shut in his face, repeating the same speech for the dozen or so individuals who showed up for the night’s festivities, mostly for the free stuff, was admirable. Nevertheless, I recall at the time thinking Booker coveted the position for personal reasons as much as for a sense of public service, and with hints of a 2020 run, as he picks up his deliberate and carefully crafted Political Speak, it seems all the more clear that when it comes to fighting for what’s right, he’ll always choose his words carefully.
National politics are all this and more, requiring tremendous sacrifices in order to reach success. Do some people want to genuinely change things? Absolutely. But as David Axelrod on his podcast The Axe Files often mentions, many of these individuals have a deep need for accolades and attention. They love the fandom and relish in the power. To run for national office, one has to have the confidence that they could change things for the better. No different than a writer who needs to have faith that his words will read fresh and mean something, politicians possess the same core. Anthony Weiner embodies this narcissism, taking its effects to entirely new and unchartered territories in the age of social media.
Continue on to Part 2...
BELOW: Beneath the passion is a sociopath
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