Whose transgression was worse, Weiner or Spitzer?

Pondering an unanswerable question

By Alex Halperin
Published July 10, 2013 12:56PM (EDT)

Capital New York ponders the inevitable unanswerable question that has been inflicted on New Yorkers this paltry election season:

Chris Smith of New York magazine attempted to put Weiner and Spitzer's behavior in relative context, and comes up with a comparison that doesn't really flatter either man: "Spitzer’s acts were (very slightly) more sane, Weiner’s more twisted; Spitzer’s transgressions more offensive, Weiner’s sillier."

All this must be particularly galling to Weiner (notwithstanding his stated indifference to the Spitzer candidacy), whose greatest accomplishment to this point has been the achievement of something like normalcy in his candidacy.

The post goes on to quote an editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News that gets to the heart of the matter:

Lessons from Mark Sanford, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer: "the cost of violating the public trust is modest, and the resulting embarrassment eminently surmountable. In fact, getting caught with your pants down (metaphorically or literally) might even garner you the kind of unique media attention not normally enjoyed by politicians, which translates into name recognition, which often translates into votes." [Philadelphia Daily News]

Will reporters soon hear that candidates have been spotted in parks flashing onlookers and frightening pigeons just for the attention?

Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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Anthony Weiner Comptroller Deviance Eliot Spitzer Mayor New York City Prostitution Sex