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MAUREEN DOWD: Quit Is the Way to Roll

The cruelly misunderstood Anthony Weiner has "no idea" if he's about to be stabbed by another stiletto heel. "These are people who I thought were friends, people I trusted when I communicated with them," he told Denis Hamill of The Daily News. "B...

The cruelly misunderstood Anthony Weiner has "no idea" if he's about to be stabbed by another stiletto heel.

"These are people who I thought were friends, people I trusted when I communicated with them," he told Denis Hamill of The Daily News. "But who knows what they might do now?"

Yes, who knows? Free-spirited young women having digital sex with a well-known politician who loves to expose himself and talk raunchy can be so damnably unpredictable and untrustworthy.

The delusional Weiner, who has turned shamelessness into performance art, was expecting the sexual equivalent of honor among thieves. He wasn't counting on being out campaigning Tuesday morning while one of his online inamoratas, Sydney Leathers, was holding forth to Howard Stern about their fantasies of "a secret sex den," her possible future in porn and Weiner's satyriasis.

"There were times he'd talk to me multiple times a day," she said. "He's like a needy girlfriend or something. He's like this clingy person."


Aside from being a gift to clowns, hacks, punsters, rivals and the writers of "The Good Wife," Carlos Danger is also a gift to political-scandal survivors. His behavior is so outlandish and contemptible -- the sort of thing that used to require a trench coat and park -- that it allows Eliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton to act huffy.

When Chris Matthews asked Spitzer to verify that he would not vote for Weiner, the "governor-turned-hooker-booker," as The New York Post poetically calls him, replied: "Fair point. That is correct."

Bill Clinton, who officiated at Huma and Anthony's 2010 wedding, is shooting death rays at his political Chucky. And Hillary is dining in Washington with the president and the vice president, trying to remind everyone of her dignified career after conjugal martyrdom -- the same conjugal martyrdom her protégée, who was in Washington helping Hillary with her high-level meetings, is now enduring.

After years of literally following in Hillary's footsteps, little did Huma know how fully she would follow in Hillary's footsteps.

Weiner continues to play the rebel without a pause. He shrugged off reports that the Clintons, who have been christened the careless Daisy and Tom Buchanan of politics, regard him, in the words of F. Scott, as the foul dust floating in the wake of their dreams.

"I am not terribly interested in what people who are not voters in the city of New York have to say," Weiner sniffed about the first couple of Westchester.

Bill confessed, "I hadn't been perfect" after the Gennifer Flowers story broke, so Weiner echoed: "I recognize I am not a perfect messenger. I get that."

Just as Bill sparked a tawdry debate on whether oral sex counted as intercourse, so Weiner has sparked a tawdry debate on whether cyber-sex is more or less forgivable than illicit sex the old-fashioned way.


As voters grapple with whether to send Client No. 9 to spar with reporters in City Hall's Room 9 as a comptroller without self-comptrol, as Stephen Colbert put it, the spectacle of Spitzer passing moral judgment on Weiner has led to arguments over gradations of perversity.

Some people say Spitzer's transgressions are more understandable because they were time-immemorial victimless transactions with well-paid humans in the flesh, while Weiner's digital compulsions with women he didn't know were peephole exhibitionism and insanely "reckless," as the new front-runner Christine Quinn charged.

Others think Weiner's sins were no worse than enjoying pornography and that actual human contact is more harmful than cyber-horniness run amok. On one level, what Mark Sanford did -- fall in love with a beautiful, younger woman -- may be the easiest for voters to fathom, but is it the hardest on the wife?

Like Bill Clinton, Weiner can summon impressive political stamina under jaw-droppingly embarrassing circumstances.

Ignoring the new Quinnipiac poll of New Yorkers that says a majority of likely Democratic voters think he should get out, Weiner put up a video Tuesday night vowing that he would not drop out because newspaper editors and other pols wanted him to. "Quit isn't the way we roll in New York City," he said, with dark circles under his eyes that even makeup wouldn't hide, adding generously, "This is about helping New Yorkers."

He acknowledged that "if someone wants to come out with something embarrassing about you in your private life, you've got to talk about that for a little while."

Good luck with that.

At an event Tuesday evening in Times Square with advocates for New Yorkers with disabilities, the 48-year-old seemed tired, slight and young as he was thronged by the fierce Hydra-headed press beast. He looked as if he were running on raw will.


He apologized for being late, saying something about the "time-space continuum."

Weiner tried to focus on the issues at hand, like wheelchair-accessible cabs. The auditorium was mostly empty, except for reporters following Weiner to see if he was going to drop out or admit that he had sexted recently.

One man stood up and complained that he had been let down once when Weiner was a Queens congressman and backed away from a bill he had promised to pass.

"How can I trust you?" the man asked.

The question of the hour lingered in the febrile air.

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