On Wednesday, hours before the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Weiner was embroiled in a vitriolic confrontation with an Orthodox Jew in a bakery in Brooklyn’s heavily-Orthodox Borough Park neighborhood. Not since the pious Daniel demonstrated his faith by taking on lions in their own den has such a poor venue for a political confrontation been chosen.
Weiner’s timing made it even worse. He had stopped in to campaign and buy New Year’s sweets, a Jewish tradition, especially hours before the start of Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the days of judgment and atonement that culminate with Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday in the Jewish religion.
Weiner was leaving the store after a few minutes of bantering with customers and the help, when a man said loud enough to be picked up by the numerous videographers: “You’re a real scumbag, Anthony.”
The reference, of course, was to Weiner’s repeated sexting issues, which forced him out of Congress. At one point polls had him leading in his race for the Democratic nomination for mayor, but he was forced to acknowledge that, despite his pledges, he had failed to take his finger off of the electronic send button. He had adopted the nom de electron, Carlos Danger, to again send lewd photographs of himself, but somehow, much to his chagrin, the disguise failed to work.
Video of the confrontation went viral Wednesday after portions were posted on Talking Points Memo. The Weiner campaign Wednesday evening released a six-minute version, ostensibly to provide context, but still good viewing for those who enjoy political car wrecks.
In the video, Weiner demonstrated the pit bull feistiness that has long been his trademark – for better or worse.
“Very nice, in front of children,” Weiner snapped back at his heckler.
“Married to an Arab. You’re disgusting,” the man said.
Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has stood solidly behind her husband through all of his sexting woes, much to the dismay of many people who support the Clintons and would like to see Hillary make the presidential race in 2016.
“You have the nerve to even walk around in public,” the man said. “You’re disgusting.”
“You’re my judge?” said Weiner, a fellow Jew. “What rabbi taught you that you’re my judge?”
“You’re a bad example for the people,” the man replied. “Your behavior’s deviant. It’s not normal behavior.”
“How do you have the moral authority to judge me?” Weiner retorted.
Throughout his scandal-marred campaign, Weiner has resisted calls by the New York political and journalism establishments to drop out of Tuesday’s primary. He has insisted that only the voters should judge his peccadilloes.
Not surprisingly, polls have shown that his popularity has plummeted and his quixotic drive to reinvent his political career seems unlikely to succeed when New Yorkers vote next week. He is currently standing at about 7%, eclipsing the margin of error, but trailing three other candidates.
Weiner defended his shootout at the Brooklyn bakery, arguing that he had no choice but to defend his and his family’s honor.
“He was saying things within my earshot but not to me and saying some pretty vile things, and apparently he didn't expect that I would not stand idly by for it, and I think I put him in his place,” Weiner told reporters afterward.
“Just because someone is running for office doesn't mean you have an unabridged right to say whatever vile, nasty thing you want.”