Weeks after The New York Times Magazine helped Anthony Weiner launch his comeback campaign, its ink-and-paper sibling has fired a big shot into the side of it. And it's not the same bombshell everyone is waiting for.
In the first of a series of profiles of the candidates in New York City's mayoral race, the paper examined Weiner's congressional record and interviewed dozens of old colleagues to paint a portrait of a passionate, attention-seeking, but mostly unaccomplished lawmaker. It's a long story, but just a handful of pull quotes will give you the gist of this tough examination:
"In 12 ½ years in Congress, he sponsored and wrote only one bill that he steered to enactment: a measure pushed by a family friend who gave his campaigns tens of thousands of dollars in donations."
"a lawmaker with little patience for making laws and a single-minded focus on generating attention so he could run for mayor of New York."
"a go-it-alone politician whose legislative record was thin and whose restlessness could spill into recklessness"
"unwillingness to be a team player did compromise his ability to be an effective congressman
There's also a few Miranda Priestly-style "horror" stories from former aides that imply Weiner can be a bit of diva: barking directions to his drivers while riding in the car; throwing salads and phones against the wall in anger; and ordering staffers to call air traffic control towers in attempts to get his planes off the ground faster (so he could get back home to make more public appearances.)
The underlying message is pretty plainly stated: Weiner is an attention hog who quickly pounces on issues that will get him in front of cameras, but then just as quickly abandons them out of frustration or impatience. He's described (in a compliment!) as a "pothole congressman" who is great at getting small favors done for his district, but uninterested in the heavy lifting of serious legislative work. And one who is sometimes unwilling to return favors when asked.
It will be up to New York voters to decide if maybe that's what they want from a mayor. In an interview with the Times, Weiner himself admits to his impatience, but says "It is just a false choice... to believe that the only way to get anything done is to sit with a law book in front of you and thick glasses." The city's current mayor would probably agree that sometimes it's getting the little things done that counts.
But the other unspoken subplot of this lastest profile is that it's not the same Times story that was hinted at earlier this week, when the paper's website inadvertently published (and then withdrew) a seemingly salacious story about Weiner's old sexting scandal. The world only got snippets of that article before it vanished, but the lines that we got aren't included in today's piece, which also has a different author and headline than the since-deleted story. No one knows what the fate of that piece is or if we'll ever see it, but clearly the Times has another shoe it's prepared to drop. It remains to be seen if it will land on Weiner's head.