Anthony Weiner, the politician whose career in Congress crashed to a halt amid his penchant for online naughtiness and who then saw an eerily similar career re-death during his bid to become mayor of New York City, might finally have the clearest explanation for his behavior: He's an "empty, soulless vessel."
That's his description, not someone else's. It's found, along with considerable further commentary about what makes up the man sometimes known as Carlos Danger, in a 5,600-plus word interview in the November issue of GQ. The married Weiner resigned his U.S. House seat in 2011 after getting caught engaging in online conversations with women other than his wife. Earlier this year, he saw his attempt at a political comeback end when it became clear he hadn't yet changed his ways, owing partly to revelations of a virtual relationship he'd struck up with a woman named Sydney Leathers.
During the interview, Weiner offers ample remarks on his Web-based undertakings that have twice undone his political aspirations, and he does take time to discuss the toll his not-well-thought-out actions have had on his wife, Huma Abedin, known for serving as a close associate to former Secretary of State, and before that First Lady, Hillary Clinton.
It's a long, sometimes odd, sometimes raunchy piece with at least several NC-17 moments, but it's probably worth a closer look if you're interested in Weiner specifically or the darker side of human nature in general. Here are a few of the more telling quotes from the piece:
--"I will say this. I have no desire to walk into a bar and pick up a woman. I love my wife."
--"And maybe if the Internet didn't exist? Like, if I was running in 1955? I'd probably get elected mayor."
--Regarding his wife: "It causes me a great deal of pain in the way she gets reported and the way she gets discussed. Her treatment in the press has been rough. It pains me because I deserve it. She doesn't."
--"I duck it as best I can, but her reputation has become the Woman Who Married an Idiot and Stuck with Him. More of it rolls off my back, because that's the way I am constitutionally. She's more sensitive. I'm just an empty, soulless vessel, so it doesn't hurt me as much."
--"You ask about the higher meaning of sexting, but it was remarkably meaningless. It was almost like a video game you played. One that didn't have much connection to reality."
--Also on sexting: "But this weird synapse in my mind fired in a different direction, and I realized, 'Wait a minute. It's not very significant to me. But it's significant to Huma. It doesn't really matter what I think about it. It kinda matters, the impact it's having on her.' And that switch going off made the game no longer interesting. It wasn't like playing Madden! It wasn't like playing an online role-playing game."
From Weiner's mother, Fran:
--Describing her son as a child: "He was always eager to please. And charming, very engaged with people."
From the article's author Marshall Sella, on the "two" Anthony Weiners:
--"Without claiming the faintest talent for psychiatry, I kept coming back to the idea that sexting with people he'd never met was inextricable from campaigning. Because isn't that a fairly spot-on description of sexting? Having a set of 'quasi-connections'? Chasing the seductive shadows of false intimacy -- not with one but with millions, both in the electorate and on the Internet? The Anthonys derived a lot of pleasure out of their respective habits. This was simply what they did. The main thing that divided Weiner up was unplanned and certainly unintended: Good Anthony had his fun in sunlight, wisecracking and singing on the trail. Bad Anthony had taken his pleasures alone and mainly by night."