Monday, June 27, 2016


Most politicians, regardless of party, are not folks you would invite into your home.  The best way to approach voting or political involvement is as if you are hiring someone for a job and deciding whether a particular applicant is the person most likely to meet your requirements for that position.  Avoid emotional investment in any politician.

THC was reminded of this when he and Mrs THC saw Weiner, a documentary about Anthony Weiner, a seven-term New York Congressman, and rising star in the Democratic Party who, in 2011, resigned his seat because of a sexting scandal in which the married (to Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin) politician sent pictures of his private parts to female admirers and who was attempting, two years later, to resurrect his career by running for mayor of New York City.  Why Weiner, and his wife, agreed to provide a filmmaker intimate access to the campaign and their lives is hard to figure, and even harder to figure, is why they allowed continued access as his campaign imploded with the revelation he had continued sexting, sending revealing photos and engaging in phone sex with female admirers, even as he planned his political comeback.  The whole episode made him even more of a punch line (some New York Post headlines can be found below) but, incredibly, Weiner even agreed to do an interview with the makers of the film after the campaign ended, excerpts of which are interspersed from start to finish in the documentary.
Whatever the reasons for allowing the film to be made, the result is a fascinating and well-made movie.  The filmmakers, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, did a terrific job with the editing and narrative flow to make a compelling piece, both funny and appalling, that keeps you watching the ongoing train wreck that is Anthony Weiner's life.

And what about Weiner?  You'd never want to invite him to your home, although admittedly he's on the far end of the unsavory spectrum even for a politician.  Emotionally immature (even for a guy), incredibly self-absorbed, and obviously self-destructive, he uses his glibness to avoid substance; in his stump campaign speech he always tells voters the election is not about him, but rather about them, but it is clear that it's really about him, all the time (a fact that he shows a little (very little) insight about in his interview after the campaign).

And what to make of his wife, Huma?  While she is certainly his willing collaborator in relaunching his political career (the film portrays both of them as political junkies), initially defends him when the second scandal erupts, and we see her counsel a tearful communications director, upset by Weiner's actions, to put on a happy face before going out the door where the press may see her, Huma becomes an increasingly sympathetic figure as the film proceeds.  As her husband stubbornly refuses to drop out of the race, subjecting her to further public humiliation, her body language towards him becomes increasingly bad, and at one point she shoots him a look that could be interpreted as "if this camera weren't here right now, I'd put an ice pick into Anthony's head", failing to realize that, even if she did it with the camera present, no jury would convict her.  THC felt worse about it all, after looking at Wikipedia and seeing they'd been married only ten months, and Huma was pregnant, when the first scandal broke.

At the same time, the filmmakers show, in footage both before his initial fall and during the mayoral campaign, how good a campaigner, both tactically and in connecting with people, Weiner could be.  In fact, one of the things THC took away is that despite his protestations about his interest in policy, politics for Weiner was primarily about tactics of campaigning and positioning once elected.  At least in that respect, he may not differ from a lot of other politicians. hipsterjew)

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