OK, so I watched U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s tearful news conference (in which he handled the media-shark feeding frenzy pretty well, I think), and I have to admit that I have some amount of sympathy for the guy.
His tears seem genuine, not fabricated, and in any event, it’s not like beating up on Weiner is going to absolve us of our wrongdoing, so we probably can drop our stones right about now.
It’s true that Weiner showed poor judgment by, according to his own admission, having had sexually oriented electronic communications with some women even after he got married. (He claims that he never had any physical relations with these women, and I have no reason not to believe him.)
It’s also true that Weiner showed poor judgment by doing this while being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives when there are always self-aggrandizing bottom-feeders like Andrew Breitbart on patrol for sleaze to sling.
However, it’s also true that Anthony Weiner is a human being, specifically, a male human being, and male human beings sometimes become possessed by testosterone.
That in and of itself is forgiveable. It is, after all, biology.
I personally don’t give a flying fuck whether or not Weiner used any government equipment to send or receive any sexually oriented material. I mean, fuck. That would the very fucking least of our federal government’s problems, wouldn’t it? How about that interminable war in Afghanistan and that probably illegal military intervention in Libya? And the fact that Pakistan would prefer that we pack up our drones and leave already? How about that economy? Those are problems.
The larger issue in “Weinergate,” the national discussion that we should be having but for the most part aren’t, is how much an elected official’s sex life should matter. (We also could use a national discussion on whether or not monogamy really works — ’cause it really doesn’t seem to for a great many people — but my boyfriend reads my blog sometimes, so that’s all that I’ll say about that right now…)
I mean, these political sex scandals go back and forth, Repugnican and Democrat, Democrat and Repugnican, and how do they help us? We get temporarily nationally titillated — admittedly, it’s great blogging material — but are we better for it? Finding out about the infamous blue dress or seeing images of shirtless members of Congress never meant for public viewing* — does wallowing around in this mud make us better people?
As much as I wasn’t exactly devastated to see another New York U.S. representative, Christopher Lee, a Repugnican, resign in February due to the publicization of his shirtless picture (which, despite being married, he sent to a prospective female hookup on Craigslist, who recognized him as a congressman and outed him to the media), I — we — probably could do without these sex scandals, regardless of the partisanship involved. (Which is what I said when I wrote about Christopher Lee in February.)
I retract my earlier statement of today that Weiner should resign, primarily for his having lied.
The House Ethics Committee apparently is going to look into “Weinergate,” and probably will slap Weiner on the wrist, especially for having lied (and maybe for having inappropriately used government resources, if he did so).
But whether or not having lied to the public, which Weiner fully admits that he did, should end his career as a U.S. representative should be up to the voters of his district in November 2012 — not up to Andrew “Archie Bunker” Breitbart or other political enemies, not to the media, not to you (unless, of course, you live in his district), not to me.
Weiner didn’t lie about something of national importance, and it’s understandable why he lied.
He said it himself, when asked point-blank in his news conference today why he lied. He replied: “I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. [I still am] to this moment. I was trying to protect my wife, I was trying to protect myself from shame. It was a mistake. And I — and I really regret it.”
I don’t know. From what we know up to this point, Weiner seems guilty primarily of having been human while having been a U.S. representative. At this point, it seems to me, even more dog-piling upon Weiner probably is a larger statement about our collective character than his.
And it seems to me that unless Weiner is found guilty of having committed sexual harassment — which I consider to be a serious offense for anyone, but even more so for those in positions of considerable power (with that power comes commensurate responsibility) — the matter is between him and his wife and those women who presumably communicated with him voluntarily.
And this bottom-feeding really needs to stop. We continue relish this shit and slime while the American empire continues to collapse all around us.
*Frankly, I find it skeezy — and, frankly, gay**, in a closeted kind of way — that 29-year-old U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, an Illinois Repugnican, appears on the cover of the current issue of Men’s Health:
I picked up this issue of the softcore gay porn magazine in a store recently, and it occurred to me, as I looked closely at the cover, that maybe we don’t really need to see our elected officials’ appendectomy scars and treasure trails. (And Schock’s treasure trail and chest are meticulously manscaped, and you know how I feel about that.)
Honestly, if we are going to castigate Weiner for having had sexually charged images of himself released to the public by someone else — saying that these images of him diminish the institution of the U.S. Congress — can we say that Rep. Aaron Schock’s having posed for the cover of a softcore gay porn magazine does not also diminish the institution of the U.S. Congress?
What’s next? U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on the cover of Playgirl?***
**Schock allegedly is heterosexual, but judge for yourself from this photo of him that surfaced a year ago:
Really, I’m surprised he didn’t just tie his shirt like Daisy Duke:
***Well, we can hope…