Carol Anne Costa: Political Redemption, Rhode Island-Style

Thursday, July 25, 2013


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It seems that behind every good politician is an even better scandal.

RI is no stranger to scandal and redemption even though our RI scandals are old school (no Tweeting involved) they remain none the less juicy. Take our Buddy for example, he has risen from the ashes like the ultimate Phoenix over and over again; spousal infidelity, fistfights, fireplace logs, and Plunder Dome all in Buddy’s past. But, it is his knack for returning to limelight, prominence and politics that is nothing short of Poli Sci textbook material; the professor of the comeback by Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. Do the crime, do the time, spin it like a champ, write a book and move forward. He never shies away from a camera or microphone and uses media platforms to rebuild his brand on his own terms. His methods to date seem to work.

Do we secretly love scandals?

Ever since Gary Hart taunted the press in 1987 with the immortal dare…“Follow me will be boring” the Democratic rising star and Presidential candidate started something the public loves to pursue…a scandal. Was it Hart’s infidelity and the media storm that followed what began our obsession with public dysfunction? Since Hart’s “Monkey Business” an ever improving model of how to survive a scandal has emerged. In a nutshell it is: lie, deny, come clean, seek forgiveness and come roaring back! You remember Mark Sanford; the philandering Governor of South Carolina, whose Appalachian Trail tale was tall indeed, he is a Congressman again. Bill Clinton’s well documented indiscretions with Ms. Lewinsky ending with his eventual impeachment, he is head of the Clinton Global Initiative and is by all accounts one of our most popular politicians. Let us not forget Elliott Spitzer’s prostitution woes leading to his disgraceful resignation as New York’s Governor, he is currently leading the polls with his bid for New York’s Comptroller. What do these figures all have in common? They are men and have revived their public persona and political careers with great success and seemingly robust public acceptance. Similar to the Buddy model, each of these politicians took the heat, asked for forgiveness and Americans, like Rhode Islanders are proving to be a very forgiving people. We like second chances and our politicians are taking full advantage of the public’s willingness to move forward.

Weiner’s redemption tour veers off course

Tuesday, Anthony Weiner took the scandal model to a whole new level. Let’s get this straight…lie, deny, come clean, do therapy, come back, run for NYC Mayor and remerge for, what can I call this? “Double dip stupidity, and creepy confessions presser.” Can his ego possibly be as big as his Twitter account? The first mea culpa was barely off his lips and he was forced to admit more bad behavior. The timeline of these events is troubling, as he continued the sexting even after his admissions of guilt and congressional resignation. He even alluded to it while announcing his bid for NYC Mayor, when he told the New York voters he could not guarantee more images and people might emerge. This seems like nesting scandals to me. For certain, not the Buddy model, I think Buddy would advise Anthony to allow each scandal to die before igniting a new one. He would probably tell him to get away from the PC and switch to a flip phone too! Just my gut. I don’t vote in New York so it will up to the people of the Big Apple to decide just how fast the new standard of forgiveness is. As we become more connected through social media and savvy with technology and as the news comes and goes so rapidly on our devices only time will tell how it will impact our collective ability to evaluate, assess and move on. It is apparent his wife is willing to move forward, perhaps NYC will too, only the next round of polls will tell.

Will Buddy be back?

No one knows more about political redemption than Providence voters. They are a hearty bunch and lived their share of tumult over the years. But, is it Buddy’s passion, self effacing humor, radio popularity, odd celebrity and political savvy that stirs such zeal? Ask any Providence voter and they will have an opinion of him that ranges from love to hate and everything in between! In my view, what has always carried the day for “The Mayor” is his ever exuberant infatuation with the city. He forcefully projects this in his public persona and this quality makes him part and parcel “Mr. Providence”, even post scandal. And, it would not surprise me if the quiet rumors are true; he is at least considering a run for Capitol City mayor yet again. Maybe Buddy’s sequel should be “Scandals for Dummies”. Can he do it again? Time will tell…Perhaps the scandal ridden folks in the national spotlight should look to Buddy for a lesson in forgiveness, redemption and reelections. In the end the voters will decide. #betonbuddy.


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A public relations and community outreach specialist, Carol has experience in both the public and private sectors. She is the Chairwoman of the Scituate Democratic Town Committee and has extensive community affairs and public relations experience. She previously served in the Rhode Island Judiciary for nearly 17 years. Carol also enjoyed a successful development stint at the Diocese of Providence as Associate Director for Catholic Education and is currently a public housing manager for the Johnston Housing Authority. Her work has been published in several local outlets including: GOLOCALPROV, Valley Breeze, The Rhode Island Catholic, and Currents Magazine.


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