Anthony Weiner, Paula Deen and the art of the comeback
By RICHARD ROEPER July 1, 2013 2:36PM
New York Gay Pride On Display During Annual Parade
Updated: July 1, 2013 5:24PM
Anthony Weiner? I was wrong about that guy too.
When the sexting ex-congressman announced he was entering the New York City mayoral race less than two years after he resigned and gave a new meaning to “junk mail” (well, tweets), I immediately thought: too soon.
Contrary to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-quoted belief about no second acts in life, almost everyone gets another shot at it — but you gotta put some distance between your downfall and your comeback.
When Weiner resigned in the summer of 2011, I predicted he’d disappear from the public eye, repair his marriage, do a lot of community service, write a dry, policy-wonk book reminding us he’s a serious, smart, dedicated public servant —and THEN maybe he’d run for office. Like at the end of this decade.
“Anthony Weiner Doesn’t Care What Everyone Thinks,” was the June 30 headline over an editorial in the New York Times.
“Mr. Weiner groveled briefly when the scandal broke, but today, like the dog with a gun in the ‘Far Side’ cartoon, he’s through begging,” states the op-ed piece. “He has made it clear that he has gotten the forgiveness he needs (his wife’s) and doesn’t need yours.”
Sunday afternoon at New York City’s gay pride parade, the crowd chanted, “Weiner, Weiner, Weiner!” prompting the candidate to crack, “You guys know that’s my name, right? We’re not just saying that.”
A 25-year-old parade-goer is quoted by Salon as saying, “We love Weiner and you can quote me on that!” and we’re still talking about the former congressman here.
Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal/NBC New York Marist poll shows Weiner leading the race for the Democratic nomination. Leading the race!
So much for the long climb back.
Baldwin? Yes. Deen? Um …
A recent meme showed pop princess Britney Spears in full meltdown mode six years ago, “If Britney can make it through 2007, we can make it through this day.”
Remember 2007-08 Britney? Shaving the head, attacking the paparazzi (and dating one paparazzo), wearing the crazy wigs, making the scary faces, losing touch with reality, making multiple trips to rehab, losing custody of her children to Kevin Federline?
Fast forward to 2013, and Britney’s just made a reported $15 million a year as a judge on “The X Factor,” she’s working on her eighth studio album, and there’s been talk for months about a lucrative, extended, Celine Dion-type deal in Vegas.
Even after all of Britney’s madness, there’s still a lot of love and empathy for her—no doubt because the vast majority of her destructive behavior was self-targeted. Yes, there were some dubious child-rearing decisions and that ninja umbrella attack, but Spears came across as sad and troubled, not hurtful.
Contrast that with an Alec Baldwin, who directs his rage at flight attendants and journalists, or Paula Deen, who’s just … a disaster at this point.
Baldwin’s a Teflon Temper Pot and he’ll easily survive his latest Twitter rant.
Deen’s SOL. The inexplicably (at least to me) popular TV chef saw her career implode when it was revealed she had admitted using the N-word and she didn’t see anything wrong with a wedding using waiters dressed as slaves.
If Deen had issued a straightforward, sincere apology, her career might have survived —but with each attempt at making amends, she just kept digging deeper and deeper and deeper. When it gets to the point where your grown son is telling CNN that Mom’s not a racist because she gifted you with Hank Aaron pajamas when you were 7, this ballgame is over.
We’re seeing an ever-growing list of companies that have severed ties with Deen, including the Food Network, QVC, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Sears, J.C. Penney, Caesars Palace, Walgreens and Kmart. (In other news, wow, Paula Deen had some SERIOUS deals.)
Deen’s been kicked around so much we’re already starting to see the “I Forgive Paula Deen” commentaries. Indeed, although we all condemn Deen’s casual racism and her tone-deaf attempts to make amends, it does seem like overkill at this point. (When Matt Lauer asked Deen, “Are you a racist?,” what did he think she was going to say?)
I don’t plan on buying any of Paula Deen’s stuff, but that’s just because I never bought any of her stuff in the first place. But I don’t think you’re a horrible person if you’ve got one of her cookbooks on your shelf or her dinnerware in your cupboard and you don’t plan on throwing it out.