I miss Charlie Sheen.
It wasn’t so long ago that we were treated to daily doses of a self-destructing sitcom star who claims to be Jewish. Now it’s a self-destructing political star that people claim isn’t Jewish. If Charlie Sheen had tweeted lewd pictures of himself to a young fan, even while he was married, it would be an item between the sports and weather on a slow news day.
But as of this writing, a former presidential contender and Democrat nominee for vice president has been indicted, a young TV star is in an online nude pictures scandal, and the Weiner story still has traction, likely to enter Week 2.
Of course, it’s partly because of the name/punchline factor (something about which I may be a tad oversensitive), partly because he’s handled this worse than Brownie did Katrina and partly because it falls in line with a succession of sleazy politician stories, in particular congressmen and especially New York congressmen.
When I wrote a profile of Weiner during his initial run for Congress in 1998, I noted that he tended to oscillate between the nice-Jewish-boy persona and a political pit bull, as the occasion demanded. But neither persona was on display this week as he struggled to get past this debacle. Some say he was enjoying the attention. But his calling the cops on CBS reporter Marcia Kramer says otherwise, and suggests the slick pol who scored points for scrappiness, grasp of policy and grace during the 2005 mayoral race (when he bowed out of a runoff for party unity) is the latest victim of a form of male-dominated hari kari that maybe no one without a doctorate in psychology can understand.
Last year a wealthy Republican ran a credible campaign against him, winning about 40 percent of the vote (Weiner won 93 percent in 2008 with no Republican). Next time around he’ll be running in a reapportioned district. The sharks are surely smelling blood, and in New York’s mayoral election he faces a crowded bipartisan field.
But if politics go bad for him, he may just get a call from network executives marveling at his TV staying power, especially if Ashton Kutscher doesn’t work out as Charlie Sheen’s replacement.
Kudos to CNN, for as I speak, the network is today acknowledging that there are in fact other matters facing our country, and in a political roundup with pundits I was sure would lead with Weiner, the segment discussed President Obama’s auto industry bailout, Mitt Romney’s presidential declaration, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giliuani and the influence of Evangelicals in the campaign.
Unmentioned was Sarah Palin’s visit to New York, in which she sported some eye-popping Jewish bling that was stunning as much for its noticeability as for the "WTF" factor (and, this being a family newspaper, I of course meant that to stand for where’s that from?)
Maybe it’s not much different than a male politician putting on a yarmulke, but they generally do so when visiting a synagogue or yeshiva or at a Jewish lifecycle event. Palin’s choice of jewelry — she is often seen wearing a cross — suggests she thinks all of New York is Temple Beth Shalom or Barney Greengrass. She told reporters she was commemorating the unification of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, observed on Wednesday.
Nice. But I think a lot of us would be more impressed if she wore that necklace in the deep south, where even some Jews may not (or maybe on the streets in Bensonhurst where I grew up.) Or, maybe back in Wasilla, Alaska, where Palin was said to have campaigned strongly in 1996 on her Christian background in her bid to unseat Mayor John Stein.
"“I thought: ‘Holy cow, what’s happening here? Does that mean she thinks I’m Jewish or Islamic?’ " Stein, a Lutheran, told The New York Times in 2008.
David Brog, of Christians United for Israel, told The Atlantic "it is increasingly common" for evangelical Christian supporters of Israel to wear Stars of David out of devotion to their biblican interpretation centered on Jewish return to Israel.
Maybe if John Stein had worn a Jewish star back then, Palin would have thought he is a better Christian.