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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Frank Bruni, "The Freak Show as Fable": Freak Show or the Political Norm?

In a compelling New York Times op-ed entitled "The Freak Show as Fable" (http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/opinion/sunday/bruni-the-freak-show-as-fable.html), Frank Bruni writes:

"It’s the story of superficiality trumping substance, of fame rather than accomplishment being the aim of too many people in politics these days. As The Times’s David Halbfinger and David Chen documented in an examination of Weiner’s 12-year Congressional career, he would predicate his advocacy for issues on a guarantee of prominent placement at the microphone, and he was a leading sponsor of just one piece of legislation that was signed into law.

But he was well known! On TV all the time! Weiner is the poster boy for a subspecies of lawmakers who are really noisemakers, maestros of the cable-ready kerfuffle, their sights set on MSNBC or Fox News or Politico, their need for notice constant. He’s a fun house mirror of narcissism in politics, and his demand that total strangers ogle his anatomy in cyberspace was in some sense a sick-joke version of other politicians’ thrill at the sounds of their voices and their addiction to applause. He contains multitudes: John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Eliot Spitzer and, yes, Bill Clinton."

"A fun house mirror of narcissism in politics"? And here I always thought that politics attracted narcissists like moths to a flame.

Weiners needs to abandon the mayoral race, but did he do anything worse than Bill Clinton, John Edwards or Eliot Spitzer?

Moreover, is Weiner's behavior characteristic of a "freak show" or representative of the political norm in 2013?

Weiner has dropped to fourth place in the Democratic race for New York City mayor, and more than half of Democratic primary voters say he should quit, according to a recent Quinnipiac Poll (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-29/weiner-drops-to-fourth-among-new-york-mayoral-hopefuls-in-poll.html). But he's still only 11 percentage points behind Christine Quinn, who leads the field with 27% support among likely Democratic voters.

And then Weiner might also ask himself, is the glass half-empty or is it half-full? Remarkably, only 53% of Democratic primary voters think he should quit.

Yes, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

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