Friday, June 10, 2011

An Unjustified Weiner Roast?

Ooohhh Weiner, Weiner, Weiner. What has my Weiner done. My politicians let me down rather frequently but it is a rarity that they let me down in such a manner. Policy failures, flip-flopping, tacking too far to the center, abandoning campaign promises. I have developed a tolerance and almost an expectation for these disappointments. But Tweeting photos of your junk? This is new to me. But how much of an outrage is it and how angry should I be? How much of our animus is moral, and how much is political? 

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow appeared on Letterman Wednesday night to address these questions and naturally, they raised a few more. The most ubiquitous question floating around the blogosphere these days is whether or not New York Congressman Anthony Weiner should resign from the House of Representatives for Tweeting photos of him in his panties to what is now thought to be six or more of his “followers.”

Is this a crime? No. Is this immoral? His wife would probably say ‘yes.’ Is this an act of reckless stupidity? If you are a nineteen-year-old virgin with seven Twitter followers, maybe not. But if you are a high-profile New York Congressman with aspirations of being Mayor or Governor of New York, yes. Absolutely and unequivocally, without discussion.

But is stupidity grounds for resignation? The Republican Party is unified in shouting ‘yes’ from the top of its high horse. The party of God, guns, monogamy and morality wants Weiner to step down. And, much to my dismay, so do some Democrats as well. But predictably, most of the clamor is coming from the right.

And during her Letterman appearance, Maddow pointed out that last year, when Republican Senator David Vitter admitted to cheating on his wife with prostitutes, no one in the GOP called for his resignation. No one.

hy·poc·ri·sy noun \hi-ˈpä-krə-sē also hī-\
1: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially
2: the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

I’m sorry but I find it to be quite curious that in the eyes of Republican leadership and punditry, cheating on your wife and breaking the law by fucking hookers is not as big of a sin as cyber-flirting with strangers on the other side of the country. Yes, I am a Democrat. And yes, I have, for some time now, been stricken with Weiner-fever. But no, I do not think I am rationalizing the actions of a politician I have long-admired.

Weiner acted like, well, a wiener. That is not up for debate. What he did was inappropriate and his lying about it only exacerbated things. But is it unforgivable? How his wife answers that question is considerably different from how his constituents should answer it. His wife may have a reason to abandon him but his party does not.

I know that politicians’ failsafe tactic when confronted with these scandals is self-preservation-at-any-cost but is this large enough of a scandal to justify that? Should Democrats shun him at every turn? Will they deny him thrice before the cock crows at the dawn of the next election cycle?

Obviously, the Republicans will sling mud, slander and mockery at him at every opportunity because he is a prominent member of the enemy party. But can they really take the high road? Can the party of Christianity and family values continue lauding itself as such when they’ve got hooker-humping David Vitter still holding a seat in the US Senate? Can the monogamy champions of the political universe still cast stones when Newt Gingrich, its front-running presidential hopeful has been married and divorced more times than Elizabeth Taylor?

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Tap twice for 'yes' and once for 'no'
And does everyone remember Republican Senator Larry Craig? I do. Because of him, I will never take a dump in an airport restroom in fear that if I inadvertently tap my foot, I will be arrested for soliciting a pre-flight quickie.

The President of the United States enjoying a cigar with his intern is one thing, Elliot Spitzer moonlighting with top-shelf escorts is another and Tweeting panty-pics of yourself is yet another. But they all ask the same our elected officials’ personal lives have any impact on their ability to govern? Should we combine or compartmentalize the two…especially when no law has been broken?

Bill Clinton’s tendency to bang chubby girls and then lie about it makes him a bad husband with worse taste in women (yes, that was a jab at Hillary too) but does it make him a bad President? Spitzer is filthy and he broke the law so yes, by all means, step down, disappear and re-evaluate your station in life Elliot. But even though Anthony Weiner’s Twitter habits may land him in the doghouse at home, should they have him exiled from Congress?

Maddow made an excellent point in reminding us that Weiner never ran on a political platform of superior morality and that his recent transgressions failed to expose him as a political hypocrite in any respect. (see definition above)

Maddow claimed that this scandal qualified merely as ‘gossip.’ What do you think?

What is the difference between gossip and news in this round-the-clock multimedia blitzkrieg in which we are helplessly immersed? And how much stock should we put in it? Ha ha, Weiner got caught sending pictures of his wiener, what a nimrod. But should we really mock him out of office and forget how zealously he fought for healthcare for the workers at Ground Zero? Should we disregard the passion he brings to public service and judge him only for his idiotic indiscressions?

I just can’t bring myself to do that. Maybe it’s because I myself am a passionate person and I look for passion in my politicians just as I look for it in the athletes I admire. And passion is something that is rarely found in politics. Anthony Weiner has passion. He also has, Photoshop augmentation not withstanding, an enormous package. And forgive me for saying so, but it takes balls to represent the state of New York. Big balls. And the state of New York cannot afford to neuter one of its most tenacious political voices.