Ringside Seat: First Sanford, Now Weiner?

Will Anthony Weiner be able to pull a Mark Sanford in the upcoming New York City mayoral race?

He certainly hopes so. If you remember from a few weeks ago, Mark Sanford was the disgraced former South Carolina governor who rocketed back to political relevance after winning a special election for a vacant House seat. The voters of the South Carolina first district weren’t happy with his affair, but were willing to forgive him (it also helped that he was a Republican running in a conservative area).

Anthony Weiner didn’t cheat on his wife, but he did send pictures of his crotch to random women on the internet, which is almost more embarrassing. He was forced to resign from office, and entered a long period of seclusion. Today, however, he officially announced his bid for mayor of New York City. It’s entirely possible he’ll be successful, and follow Sanford’s example.

Then again, there are important differences between the two men and their situations.

Mark Sanford was running to represent the district he left to become governor. He had history with voters, and in turn, many still held him in high esteem. Indeed, when Sanford was eventually forced out of office, he held an approval rating in the mid–50s. Affair or no affair, South Carolinians still liked him.

Weiner has never been mayor of New York, and doesn’t have political experience in large areas of the city. It’s a bad combination of traits: Infamous but unable to claim goodwill.

Again, none of this is to say Weiner can’t win. Stranger things have happened in politics, after all. But it’s fair to say it would be a surprise.

So They Say

"The senior senator from Arizona urged this body to trust the Republicans. Let me be clear, I don’t trust the Republicans. I don’t trust the Democrats and I think a whole lot of Americans likewise don’t trust the Republicans or the Democrats because it is leadership in both parties that has got us into this mess."

Senator Ted Cruz


Daily Meme: War on Terror on Terror

  • Obama is giving a big speech tomorrow on drones and the war on terror. Given themany questions he needs to answer, it should be a doozy.
  • The speech was planned for earlier in the month, but was pushed back due to the hunger strikes at Guantanamo and the aftermath of the Reuters phone-record subpoenas.
  • Drone attacks have dropped sharply since 2010, but a letter released by the Justice Department today finally acknowledging its role in Anwar al-Awlaki's—and three other American citizens'—death is sure to hover in the foreground of the address, which will be delivered at the National Defense University.
  • As Geoff Dyer sums it up, "Mr. Obama’s speech is a rare opportunity to cast some light on what his administration has actually been doing. Just at the moment when the public is rattled again about Islamist terror, Mr Obama needs to re-establish his own credibility and make the case that he has not created an apparatus for fighting terror that now is out of control."
  • Meanwhile, the situation at Guantanamo grows more dire by the day. Military defense lawyers are comparing the hunger strikes, and the penal purgatory that led to them, to the My Lai massacre.
  • Military physicians, on the other hand, dispute ethical questions about force-feeding prisoners.
  • And legislators are slowly starting to pressure the president to re-remember one of his biggest campaign promises, closing the detention center.
  • Meanwhile, the Pentagon said earlier this month that they anticipated the war on terror would drag on another 20 years.
  • And in tomorrow's speech, Obama is least likely to detail how he is planning to end this "forever war."


What We're Writing

  • Nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilizer washed from farmland into the Mississippi River has created the largest dead zone off the United States in the Gulf of Mexico. Paul Greenberg rode the river to find solutions to the ecological disaster.
  • Why did environmentalists pour $50,000 into a Massachusetts primary? Because one of the contenders opposes Keystone XL, writes Sarah Laskow. For its opponents, the pipeline has become synonymous with environmental catastrophe.

What We're Reading

  • Ben Terris interviews a representative from the southern edge of Texas who has a particular interest in seeing immigration reform succeed.
  • Will food trucks politics turn young people into conservatives?
  • The pro-Keystone lobby is starting to snuggle close to Dems on the fence.
  • Why are crazy people taking over Virginia's Republican Party? 
  • Why Oklahoma's geography both demands and hates basements.
  • Arrested Development is almost here! Let's waste the rest of the week deciding which member of the Bluth family every representative is.
  • Jonathan Chait forecasts that the climate change wars will start this summer.

Poll of the Day 

Forty-nine percent of New Yorkers don't think Anthony Weiner should run for mayor, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. The former representative officially announced his candidacy this morning via YouTube and trails City Council Speaker Christine Quinn by 10 percent for the Democratic nomination.

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