When it comes to politicians, citizens of the United States want somebody they can get a beer with. They want somebody they can trust, somebody who will not, let's say, sell weapons to fund Nicaraguan death troops. Historically, it seems that the American people have been trusting the wrong guys.
Former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner might not seem reliable. In 2011, the man tweeted sexually suggestive pictures of himself to an adult woman and blamed it on a hacked Twitter account before admitting the truth and resigning. His actions were creepy and wrong. He betrayed the trust of his wife and the public, but Weiner deserves a second chance. Why? Because Weiner did not use tax-payers dollars to escape to Argentina, nor did he have affair with an intern, nor did he break into the DNC headquarters. He just did something that was ... gross.
Weiner has built his career off policies that are good for women. He has a strong pro-choice voting record: In 2003, he received an 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and in 2006 he received a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee.
Weiner was also critical of the 2009 Stupak-Pitts Amendment, arguing that it would prevent health insurers from offering abortion coverage whether or not an individual used federal funds to buy insurance. Watch his impassioned speech against the amendment below:
Besides his work for women's rights issues, Weiner is a longtime supporter of the middle class and of single-payer healthcare in New York. During his time in office he created the bi-partisan Congressional Middle Class Caucus, and advocated for a bill to expand Medicare to all Americans.
Yesterday Stuart Stevens, former chief strategist for Mitt Romney, wrote on the Daily Beast that Weiner was "a guy who regularly condescended to every member of Congress" among other scathing criticisms. In many ways, it's true: there are various videos of Weiner yelling at Republicans. In a political climate in which Democrats often yield to the demands of Republicans who refuse to negotiate, let alone to listen to the desires of 90% of their constituents, Weiner's passion for defending women and the middle class is one I would welcome.
The former representative's condescending attitude lacks the grace of Elizabeth Warren's, perhaps, but he does it in defense of good policies. Below, you can watch him going berserk when Republican Representative Peter King was trying to scuttle that day's vote on the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
You can also watch him annihilating a Republican on the House floor who read a hoax memo to argue against a healthcare bill:
New Yorkers elected former Representative Weiner to defend these policies; I am happy to see him fighting ferociously, if not tactfully, for his beliefs.
The hopeful mayoral candidate is flawed. People are rightfully angry with him for betraying the public's trust. Rather than ignoring his dark past, Weiner has confronted it: he and his wife discussed his mistakes in a lengthy New York Times Magazine article, and the former representative discusses it in his mayoral video released last night. New Yorkers who cannot see beyond Weiner's mishaps have other strong choices: both Christine Quinn and Scott Stringer are capable Democrats with promising Mayoral campaigns. But if we look beyond Weiner's stupid mistakes, we might find a man we can trust to defend pro-feminist, pro-middle class policies.