Weiner and Spitzer: It’s not about forgiveness.

A FEW MONTHS after the last presidential election, at a forum at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, a group of seasoned political consultants were discussing what makes a good candidate — someone voters will respond to and connect with. The answer, one said, was “authenticity.”

This isn’t necessarily a trait that voters — or campaigns — would name. Candidates like to pitch themselves as people with grand passions, brilliant ideas, noble backstories, or all-American values. (Not all necessarily at the same time, but hey, we can’t have everything.)

But this different and slightly subversive idea — that voters want, most of all, to know precisely what they’re getting — goes a long way toward explaining why there’s hope for Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer.

They are destined to be paired in headlines all summer: the testosterone boys, recovered from their sex scandals and bidding to be New York City’s mayor and comptroller, respectively. And the standard political narrative puts them in the framework of downfall and redemption: sinners, tapping into America’s grand willingness to forgive….But maybe the public isn’t rewarding these guys’ repentance so much as their honesty. Maybe voters don’t need to forgive, or even forget; they just have to wrap it all into a credible big picture.

Read the rest of my Boston Globe column here

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