When Politicians' Sex Lives Stop Being Private


This article is republished from Verities and Vagaries.

Ok.  I didn’t want to address it.  First, it seemed like a stupid thing to be talking about at all, and then it just seemed stupid, and now it’s mostly sad.  But I found that thoughts on the topic were accumulating, unbidden, in my head.

So, pardon my being unfashionably late to this particular pity party, but since you (hypothetical reader and one friend who actually) asked, here are a few musings on Anthony Weiner:

1.  I don’t care, in and of itself, that Anthony Weiner gets something out of online flirtations/relationships with women.

a.  Hey, doesn’t everyone go through an inappropriate instant messaging phase?  I did. Then again, I was…. not married.  And also… in junior high, when I couldn’t get any boys at school to flirt with me in real life.

b.  So to qualify the first statement, I think it’s pathetic that Anthony Weiner, smart, progressive mind, noted Democratic congressman, grown man, gets anything out of his virtual liaisons, but hey, he doesn’t want to legislate what I do with my body, and I’ll return the favor.

2.  The fact that Anthony Weiner is married adds another layer of sadness to the situation.  I feel a lot of sympathy for his wife, for whom this must be incredibly humiliating.  And the fact that he’s married makes Weiner’s dalliances a moral issue that they wouldn’t be otherwise (at least, unless it’s confirmed that he carried on such things with underage girls).

a.  But among politicians–or, more broadly, people in power– infidelity is so common that we can’t get rid of all the cheaters.  Nor, I think, should we.  I don’t think marital infidelity itself renders anyone unfit for office.  Unfit for matrimony, maybe, but skeazeballs can be smart, competent, and yes, even principled when it comes to carrying out their elected duties.

3.  What makes Anthony Weiner probably unfit for office is two-fold:

a.  He was too stupid and egoistic to realize that of course news of his exploits would come out.  Of course if you send multiple body shots to multiple women, using your real, elected name, somehow one of them is going to emerge.  That would likely have happened even if he hadn’t shot himself in the metaphorical and literal crotch by accidentally tweeting the infamous gray underwear pic.  Hell, much as I admired the man, if he had tweeted me such a pic, I would have at least considered selling it to Gawker and making a little money for grad school, so who’s to think one of the many ladies he was tweeting/texting/Facebooking wouldn’t have done the same?

b.  He was too stupid and egotistical to acknowledge that once the photo was out, the jig was up. He failed, spectacularly, to acknowledge the lessons of very recent history.  First, he witnessed the Chris “Craigslist” Lee debacle, and yet kept up with his steamy sexting. Then, he ignored a principle rule of dealing with scandals, which is that lying about it compounds the problem.  Now you’re a skeazeball and a liar.  And in addition to his own lack of common sense, Weiner thought that the media and America at large would somehow swallow (ugh) his lack of “certitude” and not ask any more questions.

Well, now the questions have been asked and answered, and once we’ve seen this much of an elected official, we’ve reached an over-saturation point.  I, for one, would not mind seeing any of Anthony Weiner for quite a long time.  And as for his gorgeous and talented wife, Huma Abedin, I hope she considers taking a cue from her boss’s career and running for office herself.


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