What’s a disliked, disgraced, and dollar-hungry congressman who is not going to jail supposed to do with the rest of his life?
Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., has fewer options than most soon-to-be ex-congressmen.
A quick survey of nearly a dozen Republicans and Democratic lobbyists and consultants yielded this meager harvest:
1. Run in the special election to seek voter vindication.
2. Find a left-wing sugar-daddy to provide a sinecure from which to attack Republican policies on the web and on cable TV.
3. Write a book about your media-obsessed life in Congress—starting with flacking for Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.—and ending with your inglorious descent into sexting—treating it all as a cautionary tale about the mania of egoism in politics and the media.
4. See if any of his Brooklyn constituents have a job to offer—this is not a joke.… Everyone has to start somewhere.
From National Journal:
PICTURES: Seven Steps to Weiner’s Departure
After Weiner's Fall, a New Ethical Standard in House
INFOGRAPHIC: Breaking Down Ages of Hill Aides
PICTURES: Where in the World is Michelle Obama?
Meet Rebecca Blank, Who Could Succeed Goolsbee
The list of what Weiner can’t do is longer and forecloses many more profitable potential landing spots. He can’t lobby. The consensus is he wasn’t liked enough or well-connected enough before the “package-gate” to make much rain or move many votes.
His toxicity now is near Superfund status and K Street lobby shops and tony law firms will want nothing to do with the scandal or Weiner’s shrunken list of bankable Capitol Hill contacts.
He can’t go to Wall Street. Weiner bashed them plenty from the well of the House and on cable. Besides, investment banks have enough problems without inviting more scorn or nasty publicity. And big banks want to hire go-getters obsessed with shaving bond points, not their pectorals.
He can’t teach. Enough said.
He can’t host a TV show. TV audiences are made up of a lot of fathers and mothers. Weiner, to put it mildly, does not and would not rate with that demographic. You would need a diving bell to find his Q score.
The key to Weiner’s next chapter, Republicans and Democrats agree, is his wife Huma Abedin. He seems to understand that: “Today I am announcing my resignation from Congress, so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative,” he said, and then added, “and most importantly, so that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused.”
If the couple stays together and Weiner makes a conscious effort to repair the wreckage and prepare for the arrival of their first child, much will be forgiven—eventually—by the Democratic power-brokers who adore Abedin.
But if the couple splits, Weiner will not only lose the couple’s largest tangible financial asset, he will lose access to the Democratic inner-circle so vital to rebuilding or restructuring his career.
As one K Streeter put it: “If she stays, then Weiner can, just barely, be tolerated by Democratic elites, signaling it’s okay to employ him. If she leaves, he can find a job co-hosting the Greaseman’s Internet radio show.”
Weiner and the Greaseman: Somehow, it seems others might have already thought of that, though not exactly in an Internet radio context.
Obscure politicians first become infamous and then celebrities. America now happily confers celebrity upon infamy. But Weiner, in cable circles at least, was already a celebrity. Then he became infamous. Whatever he does, Weiner will be a new case study—the afterlife of an Infa-lebrity.
This article appears in the June 17, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily.