Here in New York the votes in the primary elections for mayor, city council, and comptroller are almost finished being counted. Christine Quinn, once thought to have a lock on the election, will not even make the Democratic runoff if there is one.
Reading the news stories brings you to interesting things. I have never heard of Lawrence O’Donnell but his interview with mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner did, as several people have noted, accomplish the very difficult task of making Anthony Weiner sympathetic.
He opens by asking Weiner “What is wrong with you?” But he’s not asking “Why do you send people pictures of your private parts even after you got caught?” which is a reasonable question to ask a man who wants public office. He asks Weiner, a politician, why he keeps running for public office.
One would have thought the answer obvious. Weiner gives the standard “Because I care” answer. (In a later online portion Weiner asks O’Donnell why he has to be on TV. O’Donnell admits that’s a fair question—always take a step back when your target throws your criticism back at you—and claims it’s a question he keep asking himself, but I’m sure he doesn’t.) Anyway, he keeps at it for ten minutes with (to me) unconvincing indignation. The whole thing feels fake.
Is that kind of thing supposed to be bold, penetrating, important? Are we supposed to think he’s forcing his subject to ’fess up? Is this supposed to be journalism? Lauren Green was pilloried for her interview with the shrewdly self-promoting Reza Aslan, and it’s only fair that O’Donnell be similarly criticised. At least she was sincere.
As I write, by the way, with 97 percent of the districts reporting, Weiner has just 4.9 percent of the primary vote, only twice that of Erick J. Salgado, a pastor no one outside New York has ever heard of who was running for public office for the first time. Weiner got just 5 out of 136 votes in the district in which he lives (in an apartment around the corner from the magazine’s office), two of those surely being his and his wife’s.