There are no second acts in American lives, someone once said, apparently with the sole aim of being proved wrong. There are plenty of second acts. Here’s how it works.
Anthony Weiner, the former Congressman who sent pictures of his anatomy to fans, has now decided it’s his turn for round two. He would like to run for office again, maybe Mayor of New York, maybe some other lesser role. He has been the subject of a few news stories in recent months, some speculation, and now: blam. The full New York Times magazine profile of him, his wife Huma Abedin (herself an official of some standing), and how they have moved on from the scandal. You can find it here.
It is a classic of the genre. If you want to recover after a big scandal you need to open up, invite in the media with open access and let them have their say. There is a Russian roulette feel to this – sometimes the result is an unmitigated disaster – but you can take steps to manage it and this couple have made it work. The article is full of references to their openness, the lack of barriers, the access given.
The pitch is in the article. “Also, I want to ask people to give me a second chance. I do want to have that conversation with people whom I let down and with people who put their faith in me and who wanted to support me. I think to some degree I do want to say to them, ‘Give me another chance.’ ”
This is part of a process. The article and the ones that follow and the appearance on Jon Stewart that will come and all the rest. Rehabilitation takes time and energy and practice and professional help (I have a broken arm right now which prompts the comparison).
So what might the strategy look like?
” “Is this about winning?” asks [a] political adviser. “Or is this an attempt to get the scandal off the books? Then the next time he runs for something, he can say: ‘You know what? We talked about that last time. Aren’t we beyond that?’ If so, it’s not a crazy strategy. Because when you’re running in a race you know you’re going to lose, you get to say all the positive things you want about yourself and take the brunt of the jokes this round and then figure out your real move after that. But that takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to do.””
So doing this stuff is partly about putting your guts on show. A different part of the body, and one which hopefully will prove more useful to the (still) ambitious Weiner.