The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Budd McLaughlin

August 5, 2013

Weiner may be immune to shame

— Albert Einstein famously said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If ol’ Albert is correct, Anthony Weiner — candidate for mayor of New York City — is clinically insane. Consider the facts:

• He takes pictures of his covered and uncovered crotch, and then proceeds to send the lewd materials to complete strangers;

• He’s done so on more than one occasion;

• He lost his job in Congress over it;

• Now that he’s admitted to having done so again more recently, there are cries from disgusted New Yorkers that he suspend his campaign;

• He apparently sees nothing wrong with what he’s done, so he continues his campaign.

New Yorkers are understandably upset about Weiner’s behavior. Strangely enough, however, his staunchest ally appears to be his own wife.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Huma Abedin — who is a beautiful woman in her own right — faithfully defended her husband. She also defends Weiner — whose super-secret Twitter handle is “Carlos Danger” — in an upcoming edition of Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

“Quite simply, I love my husband, I love my city, and I believe in what he wants to do for the people of New York,” she wrote.

Being a cynic, I questioned why a woman of such beauty and grace would continue to stand by her man. If I engaged in such behavior, I’d be picking up any elements of my wardrobe not burning in the front yard and placing them into the trunk of my car.

So what is Abedin after? The money? The power? The glory? The fame of being the mayor’s wife?

Well, I doubt it’s the money. According to Wikipedia (which is never, ever, ever wrong), the mayor of New York City earns a salary of about $225,000. It’s a sight more money than I’ve ever seen as a working journalist, but is it enough to suffer through continual public humiliation and shame?

But I’ve learned there are those unique individuals who cannot be shamed under any circumstances. They’re incapable of feeling humility, remorse or having to eat crow on occasion. These are dangerous individuals, and I believe Anthony Weiner — and possibly his wife — fall into such a category.

My parents occasionally remark that I was a good kid growing up. I admit, I didn’t give them too much grief, but it’s probably not because I didn’t have an urge to act out. It was because I was afraid of public humiliation at the hands of my mother.

My mother is one of the kindest, gentlest people you’d ever care to meet. But her tactics in controlling unruly behavior should be enshrined in a hall of fame.

If me or my sister ever acted up, we got “the look.” It’s not just an average look of disapproval, mind you. My mother could look at us in a way that made it appear as though flames were behind her eyes, and we feared her head would start spinning around at any moment.

In public, however, I do remember getting the occasional “elbow pinch.” And that was embarrassing because I’m sure strangers could clearly see I was being punished by the upset look on my face, but my mother had a stealthy elbow-pinching move that drew little attention to the act itself.

Every once in a while, I’ll be in a retail store (usually Walmart) and I’ll see that some kid has pushed his mom or dad too far. The end result is usually a butt-whoopin’ near the bicycle aisle.

When I was a kid, I used to feel sorry for my peers when I would see them publicly flogged. Now, I think, “He probably had it coming, and I hope by me staring at his public trial and subsequent punishment, he’s being shamed enough to learn from this experience. And maybe, he’ll never do whatever it was he did, ever again.”

So what do you do with people like Weiner who don’t learn their lesson? You can’t beat them publicly in the bicycle aisle of Walmart; they’re fully grown adults.

Perhaps his wife should develop a fiery look or an elbow pinch. In her case, she may want to consider pinching other parts.

An ear pinch can be quite painful, from what I’ve heard.

— Managing editor Adam Smith can be reached at

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Budd McLaughlin


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