One of those pesky consequences of landing a sex scandal on your resume means that it is often the fodder the press and public use for years to project your future and assess your capabilities.
Thus, coverage in the spirit of a TIME and People magazine special has trailed former Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner since he announced his intention to run for New York City mayor last week. Unsurprisingly, every story has included the obligatory mention of the former congressman's rudimentary grasp of Twitter and his astonishing indifference to his newlywed wife at the time, Huma Abedin. As it should.
What's unfortunate, however, is that policy decisions and character revelations from Weiner's 12 years of congressional experience, six years as a City Council member and six as a staffer with New York Senator Chuck Schumer have failed to make their way into mainstream media and blogosphere's assessment of Weiner's qualifications. Indeed, so much of the buzz seems to be limited to whether Weiner should be running given the scandal.
So the question stands: Who was Anthony Weiner pre-social media shirtless shares?
In 2005, Weiner announced he would be running on the Democratic ticket for mayor. Although he eventually lost to Fernando Ferrer, he turned heads when he received 29% of the voting — up from polling in last place at one point. Not known for his humility, he further surprised, though, when he declined a possible runoff with Ferrer, leading some to speculate he hoped the move would win him goodwill among the public.
In 2009, Weiner again ran for mayor against incumbent Michael Bloomberg, lambasting the mayor for not meeting the needs of New York's middle class. This campaign proved shorter than his previous, and Weiner ultimately pulled out before the primary and supported Bill Thompson.
According to Steve Kornacki of Salon in 2010, "…Weiner is not a terribly effective or relevant congressman. This is no accident. He's spent most of his House career positioning himself for glory in New York politics, so he hasn't exactly been a legislative workhorse in D.C."
In the summer of 2010, Weiner verbally blistered Republicans on the House floor for their lack of support for 9/11 emergency worker health care coverage. But on the political hot potato of whether or not to support the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero, Weiner's voice could not be found. In fact, at one point, Weiner begged the importance of the mosque discussion in light of this lack of health care (some critics maintained that some actions made for more viable talking points in future mayoral elections than others).
In 2007, Weiner made waves in 2007 for introducing an amendment that would have cut off American aid to the Palestinian Authority, arguing that this funding undermined American security interests. Weiner has also claimed that Israel has not occupied any Palestinian territory — a position that has bolstered an argument that he is anti-Palestinian. More cordially, in a profile of Weiner's friendship with film director and actor Ben Affleck, the film star explained it this way, "Anthony is a bit more Likud, and I am a bit more Labor."
Or at least that's what this Salon article claims. Weiner championed President Obama as the "ultimate game changer" for health care reform and introduced the single-payer amendment, before ultimately being forced to withdraw it because of lack of political support. This robust enthusiasm for these policies served nicely as a showcase of his liberal pedigree.
Weiner's intense management style was the profile of a 2008 New York Times story. After a staff member quit after a tirade by the Congressman, Weiner admitted: "I push people pretty hard. And there are, from time to time, staffers who don't take to it or just don't like being pushed that hard. But I really regretted him leaving. He was a marine. I'm like, 'How bad is this?' It's even worse than boot camp." While on the Hill, Weiner had the highest turnover rate of New York State representatives.