I am pissed at Anthony Weiner. I have been for a couple years now. I think he suspects it. I suspect he remembers when I confronted him at the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) meeting two springs ago. I am certain that he reads my column regularly (well, he has told me so a few times now). When I wrote that he will regret not running against Bloomberg last time out, I guess he thought I was just being obnoxious. I wish he would honestly tell us all, how he now feels in retrospect.
You see, Anthony Weiner was our best shot (as democrats) at unseating Michael Bloomberg in 2009. He was the democrats great- white-male- hope after Dinkins, Messinger and Ferrer ( I don’t count Mark Green much: since he self-immolated). Anthony Weiner was our best chance at paying-back Mayor Bloomberg for overturning the term-limits referendum. Tony was in the trenches with many of us activists during that battle. He led that fight, along with Tish James, Charles Barron (who eventually capitulated somewhat), Bill DiBlasio, John Liu, Eric Adams, Hakeem Jeffries, Kevin Parker, Norman Siegel, Ruben Diaz jnr., Michael Myers, Chris Owens, Terry Hinds, David Michaelson and many other notables.
Anthony Weiner was superb in his presentations against what Bloomberg, Christine Quinn and about twenty-eight other spineless council members eventually did: overturn the people’s voice and will. He was eloquently outspoken in his defense of democracy. He impressed many.
But this was neither the first nor the last time that “AW” impressed me. I have known this dude for a long time. Even back in the day when he would come down to the Board of Elections to defend (or attack) petitions, he was always cocky. He was always in your face. He is the consummate New Yorker: daring, bold and brash. Plus he is smart like hell. And then there is a little “hot dog” in him too; with lots of mustard, ketchup and onions.
During the 2005 mayoral primaries, he impressed me in the early debates. I really felt that Charles Barron made him confront some ethnic realities then. Realities he seemed uncomfortable in facing. His answers to pertinent questions posed, eventually flattered to deceive; but he showed the ability of being a good “on the foot” thinker.
Look, I am not mad at Tony because his penis hangs left (if that’s truly a photo of his private parts). Are you really surprised? He is usually on the left of the political spectrum; no? The only problem with this whole absurd all-day-all-night-media-brouhaha is this: if he in fact sent that semi-nude photo to the young lady fingered, then he will sure have some ‘splainin to do, relative to his wife Huma.
When he was single there were many rumors about his proclivities. He had a playboy reputation and even had aspersions whisperingly cast on his sexual orientation. It didn’t matter much then; and it really shouldn’t matter much now. We need to hold these things in proper perspective. He is married now and has been for a few years. From there on in, he and his wife will deal with the same kinds of challenges that most married couples (straight or same-sex) deal with daily. That’s their business. Stuff like this -no matter how ridiculous- doesn’t help his political aspirations. He ought to know this. In my estimation, he is one of the brightest elected officials in this country.
Anthony said his Facebook and Twitter accounts were “hacked” and I believe him. If someone can prove otherwise (defiantly and definitely) then I will be even angrier at him: since he would have possibly blown what is ostensibly his final chance to be the next mayor of New York City.
My first beef with Anthony Weiner really comes from a suspicion. I suspect that he is a one-man band. I suspect that he is so egotistic that he has no real solid advisors. I asked him this during Q&A at a club meeting in Brooklyn in 2009. He couldn’t answer. He couldn’t give me names of those people he turns to for advice. He couldn’t find one person to single out as advising him to drop out of the 2009 mayoral race when he did. He tried to “BS” all of us when he said that Barack Obama needed him in Congress: to fight the health-reform battle. Yeah! Right!
At that point in time Tony was the most eloquent spokesperson for the real health care reform issues Obama was parking by the wayside. Tony pissed me off because he punked-out against Bloomberg’s dollars. He got scared.
This cocky politician -who most democrats admire- was like the young Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) in the first title fight against Sonny Liston. As soon as Clay got his first real shot from Liston (the first taste of Liston’s power), plus some balm in his eyes, he beseeched Angelo Dundee (his trainer and one of his corner-men) to cut the gloves off and get him out of the ring (and fight). Fortunately, Dundee saw it as a brief moment of desperation and fear. He wisely knew it was only a momentary lapse. He also suspected that Liston was up to some kind of chicanery. He did what a good trainer does: he implored his charge to finish what he came to do. Eventually, Cassius Clay did; and in so doing, he became the youngest heavyweight champion of the boxing-world. Tony Wiener didn’t have a good trainer last time out; and judging from this present brouhaha: he probably doesn’t have one still.
Very early in the last mayoral-primary season, Mayor Michael Bloomberg sensed a problem with his term-limits reversal debacle. Thus he started to spend early money like a drunken sailor. He started to saturate the air waves with positive and powerful ads. Through the grapevine there were threats that Anthony Weiner’s wiener was going to be targeted for “opposition-research”. Tony blinked. He probably felt that he didn’t have the requisite cash to keep up with what was promising to be a bloodbath. He was wrong. He didn’t need a lot of cash (see Billy Thompson’s run). The backlash from the term-limits reversal was one that Weiner would have eloquently and skillfully exploited, twenty times better than Billy Thompson did. Anthony Weiner blew his chance at being mayor of NYC. He did this the same way Mario Cuomo blew his chance of being president of the USA in 1991-1992.
My second beef with Tony is this: he has continually failed to engage the communities of color in this city; unlike like John Liu, or Bill DiBlasio, or Christine Quinn, or Marty Markowitz, or Adolfo Carrion, and many of the other potential mayoral candidates, who have done this consistently over the years. You would think that Tony had spotted this weakness (or was advised of) when he ran in the 2005 mayoral primary. It’s hard to believe that he has really done little to shore up his minority-outreach given that he was intent on running for mayor again. The democratic primary has the potential for two out of every three voters to be non-white. From black elected-officials, he can probably count only on Congresswoman Yvette Clarke’s early endorsement. And that’s a maybe. For his sake, I hope I am wrong on this.
Can Tony cite how many times he went out there on marches, vigils, and civil-disobedience or protest- demonstrations: against things like police-brutality, apartheid, racism, civil-rights, or gun violence? Does he have pictures, records, interviews, and etcetera? Can he really say he was aggressive on this front?
Look, this is as outspoken a guy who has ever held office. This is a guy with ideas. This is a guy versed in public-policy solutions and suggestions. This is a guy who never shies away from radio or television crews. And yet, you can pore through his comments and try to pick out where he directly addressed issues salient and pertinent to the black experience in New York (or other big cities). It’s hard to find them. I have looked. I have waited.
I have another suspicion: I don’t think Anthony Wiener has had many (or any) black and/or Hispanic advisors over the years. If memory serves me right, I recall him having a female Asian chief of staff a few years ago. And I know his wife is of East-Indian descent. I cannot say that he has issues with minorities since I have never even heard even as much as a whisper of that. Nor do I suspect that. On the contrary; Tony seems to get along well with people of all races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and the like. Most people seem to like his aggressive demeanor; thus it is hard for me to understand this apparent disengagement. It is possible that he needs more entrees into these communities of color. Maybe he needs people to get him the linkages. Maybe he needs to staff-up earlier than most others in this upcoming mayoral campaign; and staff-up with people of color early.
I have hardly seen Tony at minority-dominated political events over the years: maybe a few but not too many. And the fact is this: once you get to engage him intellectually, he is rather likeable.
Look; I am yet to hear him speak out on the near fifty percent jobless rate that CSS found in their survey almost a decade ago. I am yet to hear him talk about the fact that white males snag nearly ninety per cent of all the city contracts. I am yet to hear him talk about HIV in the black community; or about what apologizes for an education-delivery-system in communities of color in NYC; or the twenty five percent graduation rate for male- black-high-schoolers; or the high incarceration rate amongst black males; or the less than ten percent minority number in the NYC fire department; or the low minority number in the police department; or the perennially high unemployment rate amongst blacks (both teens and adults); and so on, and so on, and so on.
Look, at this point in time, there isn’t a candidate that I am supporting in the next mayoral race. If you looked at my last column on that race, you will see that I made Anthony Weiner the favorite. I strongly feel it’s his race to lose. And yes, when “wiener” stories like this one scream across the headlines for days, well…………………... that’s another thing. And it’s not at all good.
For a guy who reads my column, Tony must be aware of the many times I have written about what’s really going on in communities of color in the urban setting. Inner-city kids from some black, some Asian and some Hispanic communities are facing brutally challenging futures. We need ideas in terms of public-policy.
Tony needs to engage these communities with his keen intellect.
It’s very early in the next mayoral race. I am writing this now because I like Tony. I hope he heeds some of the advice I am freely giving him here. He has a problem that should be addressed right away (the tweeting issue); and then he has this one that I just outlined.
Stay tuned-in folks.