Why a Y-front Twitter could finish congressman's career

It is hard to know how things can get more awkward for Anthony Weiner, a US Congressman from New York, who is involved in a scandal that is silly, serious and also something in between. Why, the nation demands to know, was a picture of a man's bulging crotch sent to a female student last week via his personal Twitter account?

The image itself barely ranks as pornographic. There is a flash of leg and lots of Y-front fabric with some contours that admittedly suggest male equipment of impressive dimensions. Still, if it turns out that the model was indeed the Congressman and he was the one who sent it, he may be in deep water, at least politically.

No one will have foreseen the ensuing media hurricane more quickly than the Congressman. All his life he has lived with the name Weiner, pronounced "Wee-ner", a slang synonym in the US for penis. It is no surprise then that the newspapers are already calling it Weinergate and are in indulging in a festival of puns and innuendo. "Weiner Exposed" yelled the New York Post yesterday. "Weiner's Pickle", chimed in the Daily News.

Both papers were seizing on interviews the Congressman has given declaring his innocence but failing to rule out the possibility that the bulge may be his. Tying himself in knots, he suggested the image might have been of him but that it was stolen by a hacker, "manipulated" to pump up his prowess and nefariously sent to the student on Twitter. It is a puzzle that Dan Lyons of the Daily Beast sorted out for the rest of us. "Weiner denies tweeting the wiener, and there is no proof that the wiener even belongs to Weiner, but if the wiener is not Weiner's and if Weiner did not tweet the wiener, then to whom does the wiener belong and how did it get tweeted from Weiner's Twitter account?"

All of this couldn't be happening to a more social-media connected politician. He found Twitter before most people on Capitol Hill had mastered email. He has carved a niche as a spokesman for liberal causes and advertises his ambition one day to be mayor of New York City. His constituency covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens in the city.

The image in question apparently reached Gennette Cordova, a female college student in Washington State, last week. She is a follower on Twitter of the Congressman but the two do not know each other personally. The media got wind of the story at the weekend and it has been growing ever since.

The puns are almost unavoidable even the Congressman, whose wife of less than a year, Huma Abedin, is an aide to Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. By Tuesday, he had concluded he was better off engaging with the media and apologised if theretofore he had seemed a "little stiff".

Questioned by CNN about the origins of the tweeted tumescence Mr Weiner replied, "It certainly doesn't look familiar to me, but I don't want to say with certitude to you something that I don't know to be the certain truth." To MSNBC, he offered: "Maybe it did start being a photo of mine and now looks something different or maybe it is from another account."

"It's not too late to prevent damage by turning [the Twitter case] over to the Capitol police and let them find the hacker," commented Ed Koch, the former New York mayor. "I think he's in trouble, I think he has a problem."

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