Monday, 13 June 2011

Live by the soundbite. . .

There is a story about Anthony Weiner’s role in the legislation providing medical assistance for 9/11 first responders, the so-called Zadroga bill, that provides a neat counterpoint to the circus he’s now starring in. Weiner is famous for going ballistic and blasting the Republicans from the well of the House when they cynically blocked the measure as needless gummint spending.

Weiner cleverly channeled the frustration many of us felt at the time at the gigantic targets the forces of reaction were providing but at which no Democrats, including especially one B. Obama, would take aim. He directly shamed and smacked the GOP in a way only the Limbaugh-driven Republicans dare to do in our sado-masochistic political culture.

One can opine on whether or not this take-no-prisoners tactic was correct or wise—I personally thought it long overdue. But the incident shows how Weiner’s combative posture as a free-lance hot dog (sorry, couldn’t resist) worked, how his willingness to elbow his way into the scoring zone made him a love/hate object. He reportedly didn’t contribute much to the collegial process involved in constructing the Zadroga bill and left what New York colleague Jerold Nadler called ‘thousands of hours’ of negotiations to others. But when the opportunity arose for a devastating soundbite, Weiner had the killer instinct to snatch it. So it was Weiner on the morning news shows battling the Republican dragon, not Carolyn Maloney, Nadler or other NY pols you’ve never heard of.

It’s an effective way to get ahead, and Weiner distinguished himself among the crowd by his full-frontal attacks. Given Democratic spinelessness and their eagerness to please the very right-wingers who disdain them, he provided welcome relief. But when you alienate friends and enemies alike by shoving everyone aside en route to the cameras, it’s got to be pretty lonely when the cameras are not showcasing your opinions but rather your pants down around your ankles.

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