The former congressman from Queens, wearing seersucker shorts, black socks and a Mets cap, is crooning “Joy to the World” as he shampoos his 6-month-old son Jordan’s hair over the sink. He then slides on shower sandals to fetch blankets from the coin-op dryer in the basement of his Manhattan apartment building. “I really do feel like a very, very different person,” says Anthony Weiner.
But who he used to be is the guy most people know: an outspoken seven-term Democrat forced to resign in June 2011 after he was caught sexting and sending lewd photos of himself to at least six women, none of whom was wife Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton. In a tearful press conference at the time, Weiner croaked into the microphones, “She deserves much better than this, and I know that.”
Today Weiner, 47, says that “I’ve had enormous regrets about what I put Huma through, how I let my constituents down. But it’s not like I sit all day replaying it in my mind. With a baby, it is pretty easy to put things into perspective.” Whether this once-ambitious politician will remain a happy househusband, however, made recent headlines when the New York Post reported that Weiner was speaking with former aides about a run, possibly for New York City mayor. Weiner shoots the rumor down. “I can’t say absolutely that I will never run for public office again, but I’m very happy in my present life. I’m not doing anything to plan a campaign.” He can’t resist adding, “The only next dramatic steps I’m planning on are Jordan’s first.”
A year ago, such domestic bliss was in doubt. When his wife’s pregnancy was outed by the press, the question of whether she would stay with her husband of one year was second in people’s minds only to What was he thinking? Their union not only stayed intact, but appears to have thrived. That’s a big reason the usually press-shy Abedin, 37, has invited a reporter into their home. “I’m proud to be married to him,” she says. “My husband did a really stupid thing. It was an extremely painful time. But there was love and a commitment to this marriage.” She tears up speaking of the paparazzi who still seek them out. “It took a lot of work to get where we are today, but I want people to know we’re a normal family.”
Weiner says he sought professional counseling but won’t go into detail except to say that it helped. Abedin concurs: “Anthony has spent every day since then trying to be the best dad and husband he can be.” That includes doing all-repeat all-the laundry, and keeping things going when his wife goes to Washington for her work at the State Department. He has done some paid consulting from home, but has otherwise lain low.
Should he want to reenter politics, says Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, “it will take time, but he is the kind of fellow who can rebuild a public life. He had a constituency that adored him, and he worked very hard.”
It’s a leap to believe that Weiner is content being out of the mix. He gave interviews about the recent Supreme Court health-care decision and reads The New York Times to his son, but says, “I’m not watching C-SPAN3 in the middle of the night, regretting how my life has turned out.” After owning up to the naughty photos, Weiner at first tried to keep his seat. “He broke no law, and he hurt only his family,” notes Sheinkopf. Other politicians, including Weiner’s friend Bill Clinton, have sprung back from worse. Both Clintons were supportive of Weiner, but House colleagues demanded he go. Even after he did, comics (among them pal Jon Stewart) had at him. You don’t hear so many Weiner gags these days, and yet, he says, “I’m still trying to sort out exactly where I am in the public consciousness.” He asks with a knowing grin, “You wonder if my name was Mitchell whether the scandal would have been as bad.”