Weiner’s life choices are the butterfly effect of the 2010s
November 27, 2019 9:21 AM   Subscribe

There is a direct line between Anthony Weiner’s penis and the rise of far-right media, the current state of the country’s biggest city, and the election of Donald Trump. (slBuzzFeed)
posted by Cash4Lead (26 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
as someone who, professionally, had a front-row seat to all this mishegas, this was an extremely painful, yet excellent, read.
posted by arkhangel at 9:31 AM on November 27, 2019 [12 favorites]


What a dick.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:44 AM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


I despise Weiner as much as is physically possible. But it would also be good for America if James Comey never existed.
posted by great_radio at 9:50 AM on November 27, 2019 [20 favorites]


I've thought about this before, particularly in the comments here, but I clearly didn't know what a keystone Weiner was. Oddly enough, I remember exactly where I was when I learned about the first Weiner scandal, that May. I was sitting on the top floor of a bus, riding away from New York after a lovely weekend, enjoying the scenery, and I'd just checked Twitter for some lols. I enjoyed many a lol about it; I didn't like that he was a Democrat, but surely, thought I, New York could handle it, and if they couldn't, he could go to ground for a while.

I had no idea. But who does? Who knows what a person is holding up until they crumble? If nothing else, Weiner should act as a sharp lesson in why we should not excuse or enable the private bad behavior of talented people. When they become leaders or key organizational figures and everything is riding on their shoulders, they will catch hell for it some day, as well they should. And when they do, it won't be enough simply to swap them out for the next in command.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:51 AM on November 27, 2019 [23 favorites]


I think the same sort of six degrees of dickdom can be connected to any past event, including the canceling of the TV series, The Real McCoys.

(The Real McCoys: Walter Brennan, sixties, chosen as a once popular TV show that has sunk its relative obscurity.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:14 AM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


I've seen similar logic pinning the rise of Trump to the 2007-08 Writers Guild strike, which led to the green-lighting of Celebrity Apprentice.
posted by SansPoint at 10:21 AM on November 27, 2019 [36 favorites]


I respect the restraint of OP, but I would have taken the low hanging fruit: "There is a direct line between Anthony's Weiner and the rise of far-right media"
posted by pleem at 10:31 AM on November 27, 2019 [15 favorites]


Good overview, but very old news: Here's an article making the same general point a week before the 2016 election: "Anthony Weiner? Seriously? Two days ago the media said it was a blowout. Now they'll say it's a horse race."

The documentary is a must watch. The opening minutes convey how compelling a politician and candidate Weiner was in public, even as the viewer knows what he was doing in private and what that would lead to.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:38 AM on November 27, 2019


Sounds like the media itself is very culpable for shaping perception.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2019 [15 favorites]


The argument could certainly be made that Weiner's weiner made it that much easier for Trump to win, but hanging the rise of right wing media on him is ludicrous. It rose and has been dominating the political conversation since 20-odd years before Weiner's weiner ever became a thing. It even predates Willie's willie being a national obsession, though Willie's willie ensured its continued relevance.
posted by wierdo at 10:43 AM on November 27, 2019 [20 favorites]


"Anthony Weiner changed the course of American history when he tweeted out a picture of his dick on May 27, 2011.
This is not an exaggeration. There is a direct line between Anthony Weiner’s penis and the rise of far-right media, the current state of the country’s biggest city, and the election of Donald Trump. Anthony Weiner is omnipresent over the last 10 years: It is inevitable that if there is a major political moment, Weiner is somewhere on its edges."


*cries*

“Anthony Weiner certainly wouldn’t have a laptop — maybe wouldn’t have even been born.”

Hahahahahah.

The documentary link in the article isn't finding the documentary any more, btw.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:48 AM on November 27, 2019


It rose and has been dominating the political conversation since 20-odd years before Weiner's weiner ever became a thing.

It's like blaming World War 1 on the assassination of the duke. While that may have been the immediate precipitating factor, all of Europe had spent decades in an arms race leading up to it, everyone knew it was coming and everyone was just itching to get on with it. The assassination didn't cause the war.
posted by JackFlash at 10:54 AM on November 27, 2019 [29 favorites]


Phew. I thought it was caused by the massive festering stewpot of racism that was brought to a boil by eight years of a black president, but it's good to know that it was caused by just one guy.
posted by clawsoon at 10:55 AM on November 27, 2019 [71 favorites]


I work in forensics and ediscovery and so it's always been extra infuriating for me to think about Comey re-opening the email server investigation like he did because it was always almost certain that the emails they found on the laptop were going to be duplicative of emails that had previously been collected and reviewed in the course of the investigation. I'm sure someone with a job like mine said that at the time too.

And, whaddya know, it turns out that they were all dupes.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:00 AM on November 27, 2019 [15 favorites]


Now imagine the state of the far-right-wing media if Clinton had won.
posted by clawsoon at 11:04 AM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'd say the Weiner story is a good showcase of why progressives have to have a zero-tolerance policy with sexual impropriety (Al Franken, Katie Smith, et al.): because one example of improper conduct is usually just the visible part of the ice-berg of larger misconduct. It's not 'why you are destroying these great progressives', it's 'good thing we were able to stop that before Breitbart used it to destroy a wider swath of our national campaign'.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 11:26 AM on November 27, 2019 [20 favorites]


IMO, the festering racism towards Michelle Obama as FLotUS was much, much more intense than the festering racism towards BHO.
posted by SoberHighland at 12:44 PM on November 27, 2019 [16 favorites]


@galaxieFiveHundred: I made that exact point while working at HFA in Brooklyn the last week of the campaign. So did others. To no avail.
posted by arkhangel at 1:11 PM on November 27, 2019


40 years of culture war, financial disasters, and forever wars, but yeah it was deffo this one guy's fault.
posted by Reyturner at 1:54 PM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


“If I could change time, Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have used a private email server,” Comey, now a too-earnest Trump critic, said at 2018’s New Yorker festival. “Anthony Weiner certainly wouldn’t have a laptop — maybe wouldn’t have even been born.”

Maybe start with no Southern Strategy and no Christian Coalition, and Richard Mellon Scaife never having been born?

There is a direct line between Anthony Weiner’s penis and the rise of far-right media, the current state of the country’s biggest city, and the election of Donald Trump.

Like, maybe Mark Burnett had more to do with Trump's political viability than Weiner's junk?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:08 PM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


How to put this emphatically enough? Anthony Weiner's penis had nothing to do with the election. Clinton's email server had nothing to do with the election.

When you have a screech box with the power that the right wing has, you just have to choose whatever and make it the most important thing. There will always be something.

Benghazi? The Marine bombing at Beirut was much worse (Reagan). 9/11 was hundreds times worse (Bush, Jr.), so unimaginably worse it set our brains to overflow. For Bill Clinton, Waco was much worse.

The only important thing about Weiner is that it was a Democrat. Contrast what he did to Dennis Hastert, a minor representative compared to the Speaker of the House.

Email servers? If that was the worst thing about Hillary Clinton, then she is a saint.

In my class of Pharmacology, when I teach students about drug advertising, I show them two slides: chicharrones (pork rinds) advertise zero carbohydrates on their package. Licorice advertises zero fat. (I extend these to examples of drug marketing.)

The rule of advertising: whatever what you are selling has is the secret ingredient you need. Whatever negative it doesn't have is proof of the item's goodness.

Extending this to negative political advertising, Whatever your opponent did is the worst thing on earth to do. All you have to do is choose something then make it so by insisting that it is.

It is necessary to inoculate ourselves against this. I remember hand-wringing on the blue when Hillary's email redux-Weiner connection came out three days before the election. It was nothing that was made into something. If it didn't exist there would have been another nothing.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:47 PM on November 27, 2019 [30 favorites]


clawsoon: "Now imagine the state of the far-right-wing media if Clinton had won."

It would still be Wyoming.
posted by chavenet at 2:52 PM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]


…screaming at Republicans for not backing…

I swear we're seeing a change in real time of the meaning of the word "scream."  It's showing up used like this all over the place, quite suddenly, in places where the word "yell" would be more appropriate and it's driving me batty.  I recently noticed it being substituted for "yell" in posts on reddit, and now I'm seeing it in BuzzFeed.   Yelling to me connotes loud and (often) angry speech. Screaming connotes something far more unhinged.

Kinda sucks to see them conflated all over the place like this, for if scream assumes the connotations of yell, what are we going to use to indicate unhinged screaming?

Aah, that feels good to get off the chest. Sorry for the derail.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 3:51 PM on November 27, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'd say the Weiner story is a good showcase of why progressives have to have a zero-tolerance policy with sexual impropriety

On balance, yes, zero tolerance is going to hurt the sexually repressed right wing much more than the left and honestly, Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner are run-of-the-mill d-bags who could be easily replaced if their shenanigans were rooted out early.

On the other hand, for every Franken that grabbed an ass “in jest” on the left, there’s a Hastert on the right with a hard drive full of child porn. I wish we weren’t condemning our d-bags as being as d-chy as their d-bags who are clearly d-chier. Hey, revolutionary democratic socialists! If you are d we really don’t need you, ok?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:30 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Posting before I read the rest of the comments, but
Weiner’s life choices are the butterfly effect of the 2010s. If he didn’t make the decisions he made, if the former director of the FBI had his way and he’d never even existed, would our politics look anything like they do right now? Would Donald Trump be president?
I'm inclined to say as to the social media phenomena of which he was the first focus, "if it hadn't been him it would have been someone else."

Two things:
  1. What would the first two years of Hillary Clinton's administration have looked like, in some universe where Wiener got hit by a bus in 2008? With both houses of Congress in Republican hands? Do you doubt that her impeachment would have started by June of 2017? It would be an improvement over the current situation but let's not lose sight of what a shitshow of Republican tantrum-hurling the Clinton Presidency is in this scenario.
  2. "...would our politics look anything like they do right now?" Well, given that "our politics right now" are largely a product of utter intransigence by Republicans who appear to have no loyalties higher than those to their Party, I'd say "yeah, pretty much."
Certain bad things would not have happened had Clinton been inaugurated instead of Trump. On the plus side, at least some of us are better acquainted with the reality of the country we live in than we were four years ago. And maybe that had to happen.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 12:25 PM on November 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


And, whaddya know, it turns out that they were all dupes.

Well, maybe, but willing dupes if so.
posted by Gelatin at 10:59 AM on December 2, 2019


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