Anthony Weiner arrived at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan nearly an hour early on Monday to receive his final humiliation. When he got it — a sentence of 21 months in prison and an order to register as a sex offender — he stayed late, frozen at the defense table as the courtroom emptied. He was a broken man, sobbing with his face buried in his hands.
As painful as it is to watch a life in ruins, Mr. Weiner brought degradation upon himself. No public penance on his part, no acknowledgment of a sexual addiction, no level of commitment to rehabilitation, no expressed regrets for having turned lives upside down, could absolve him of grave sin. This former New York congressman had repeatedly exchanged lewd texts with a 15-year-old girl. That made him not just a moral transgressor. It made him a criminal.
He could have been sent to prison for 10 years. The year and nine months given him by Judge Denise Cote qualified as an act of grace, as did her hope that, once freed, he would find a way to be “engaged productively.”
If character is indeed destiny, Mr. Weiner’s fate was sealed long ago. His narcissism was profound and undisguised. His tantrums on the floor of the House could be epic. His serial use of social media to engage in sexual byplay with women — apparently without actually having sex with them — turned him into a national joke. So did his chosen nom de porn: Carlos Danger. His family name became a weapon New York tabloids used mercilessly, if predictably, to make him the butt of one salacious pun after another.
To put it bluntly, Anthony Weiner — smart, often witty, politically deft, at one time plausibly a strong candidate for New York mayor — proved to be a pathetic jerk. But few jerks do as much damage as he did in his recklessness. He may even be responsible for Donald Trump being president.
Days before the Nov. 7 voting, the F.B.I. director, James Comey, announced he was reopening his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for her emails as secretary of state. Mr. Weiner was the reason. During their investigation of his sexting, federal investigators had found a trove of emails on his home computer that was also used by his wife, Huma Abedin,…