Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Wiener, from joke to mayor?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
May 24, 2013 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Your hosts for CNN's weekly podcast
Your hosts for CNN's weekly podcast "The Big Three," from left: John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN Radio podcast features CNN Opinion contributors on top three stories
  • Dean Obeidallah: Guest Jim Gaffigan offers parenting advice to Hoover, Avlon, parents-to-be
  • They discuss Oklahoma Congressmen's hypocrisy in accepting tornado aid
  • They take on Bloomberg's comment that plumbing might be better for some than college

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report and co-host of a new CNN podcast "The Big Three" that looks at the top three stories of the week. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- Will New Yorkers elect a punchline as mayor?

Anthony Weiner's entry into the New York City race for mayor was one of the issues we discussed with comedian Jim Gaffigan, our guest this week on the CNN weekly podcast "The Big Three," co-hosted by CNN's Margaret Hoover, John Avlon and myself.

Jim, who many know from his Comedy Central specials and his numerous appearances on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and "Conan," also talked with us about his new book "Dad Is Fat" (No. 5 on The New York Times' Best Sellers List), in which he writes about the adventures of raising five young children with his wife in a midsized New York City apartment.

Jim offered some very funny yet helpful advice to my co-hosts, who are married to each other and expecting their first child this summer. Jim offered particularly instructive guidance for how Margaret and John can cope with their expected son's most traumatizing day: His circumcision.

To listen to the podcast, click on the Soundcloud audio player above. Or find it on iTunes.

But back to Anthony Weiner: For those of you who missed it, in 2011 the former congressman texted pictures of his private parts to women, lied about it, had to resign.

We all agreed his mayoral bid can't simply be dismissed as a joke. In fact, a new poll has him in second place in the mayoral race, and he has close to $4 million in his campaign chest. Weiner might just win this race --assuming he has figured out the proper way to use Twitter.

In the podcast, we also tackled two other issues that sparked heated discussions and had unexpected results.

The first was political hypocrisy in the response to the Oklahoma tornado.

Certainly all elected officials expressed their condolences and support for the people who suffered as a result of this devastating natural disaster. But we saw some Republican members of Congress from Oklahoma -- most notably Sen. James Inhofe -- now supporting federal disaster relief for the people of their state.

But these same people opposed supporting federal aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy, which hit in October. This wasn't lost on a fellow Republican, Rep. Peter King of New York. He called them out -- and caused me, probably for the first time in my life, to agree with something King said.

Our biggest debate on this issue, though, was over the role the federal government should play in helping people after a natural disaster.

Margaret said federal government shouldn't be the primary source of funding for these people, arguing that instead the government can be a facilitator, seeking and encouraging private funds and donations to provide assistance. In contrast, I strongly believe that the federal government should be leading and funding the relief effort so that people in need are helped as quickly as possible.

Our third big issue was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's comment this week that if you weren't at the top of your class in high school, you shouldn't waste the money and time on college and instead you should become "a plumber."

As John noted, this sentiment echoed a 2012 statement by former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who mocked President Barack Obama as being a "snob" for saying he wanted everyone to go to college. Instead, Santorum believed that some should forget college and instead pursue jobs that require using your hands.

While we all agreed that the costs of a college education now border on the obscene, we did not agree on what was causing the hike in tuition prices. But there was no dispute that anyone who dreams of going to college and has graduated high school should have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

A college education not only increases a person's knowledge, it results in more employment opportunities and better wages.

In fact, people with less than a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 12.4%. In contrast, the unemployment rate of those with a four-year college degree is only 4.5%, well below the national unemployment rate of 7.5%.

We hope you check out this week's episode of "The Big Three." We would love to hear your thoughts on the podcast and the issues we raised.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT