All of This Over a Weiner?

2011 June 10

by Roy W. Bakos

The outing of Anthony Weiner as a serial “sexter” has dominated the National news and my facebook page and conversations.  While I believe that we should be talking about bigger issues facing our country right now (Empire or Republic?  The deficit and National debt.  The continuing conflicts in the Middle East and Asia that are bankrupting our economy.  Etc.), this scandal has brought a poignant point up in regards to our body politic and the conduct of our citizenry and our Representatives in government.  In a conversation with my friend Wes (The Paul Revere of machines and technology…see last week’s post) that took place at the beginning of the scandal, I expressed my belief that I didn’t really care if Weiner sent banana hammock photos to other consenting adults.  Wes, somewhat shocked by this, thought that it did matter and that this type of character flaw made Weiner unfit to govern.  On facebook, the consensus seems to be that Weiner is a flawed man that is unable to do his job and that he must resign immediately.  The thing that surprised me the most about this is that this view seems to come from both sides of the ideological spectrum.  I expect this from bible-belt Conservatives (and the social conservatives that dominate the Tea-Party section of the Republican Party) but I did not expect this from the Libertarian Right and those on the left of the spectrum to the degree that it has come.  This cross section of anti-Weiners raises the question of what is personal and what is public conduct and how and when that personal conduct affects the ability of someone to govern.  This also raises the question of hypocrisy and the accusation by many on the Right that the Left side of the American Body Politic is guilty of hypocrisy in the highest degree in regards to the digital images sent by Rep. Weiner.

I am almost a complete libertarian on these type of personal issues. As long as one is only doing things to oneself or other consenting adults, I really don’t care what substances you put into your body, who you have sex with, what TV shows you watch, or which religion you practice (if any).  As for the consequences of your actions, those are left up to the people in your life (and whether or not they decide to stay in your life if they do not approve of your actions) and the god(s) that you may or may not believe in. Personal stuff is personal stuff and it only becomes relevant if you are someone that is publicly trying to be a moral arbiter for others.

As for the hypocrisy thing…  Like personal scandals, hypocrisy seems to know no boundaries in regard to the different ends of the political spectrum.  Do we really still believe that those who hold power are somehow special people that can live without sin?  Human history is full of leaders, both good and bad from Alexander (slept with boys), to Nero (A-1 pervert), to King Louis of France (the Marquis DeSade was part of his Court) to Kennedy (banged everything that moved within 500 feet), to Bill Clinton (the Blue Dress and Cigar) and to Newt (divorced his wife to marry his adulterous lover while his wife was in the hospital).  I am shocked that so many people seem to be shocked by such seemingly inappropriate behavior from our elected leaders.  According to Merriam-Webster, hypocrisy is: 1)a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; or 2) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.This abounds on all sides of the political spectrum. If you are on the Left, and you wish to legislate morality in regards to personal activities that offend you, like smoking cigarettes and eating un-heatlhy foods, you are flirting with hypocrisy if you believe that Weiner should go, no questions asked.  If you are on the Right, and you wish to legislate morality in regards to personal activities that offend you, like nasty song lyrics, nudity in films, and the “homosexual” or “socialist” agenda, you too are flirting with hypocrisy if you believe Weiner should go, no questions asked.  I find it hard to believe that so many “Libertarians” want to be in my bedroom, my bookshelf, my iPod, and my movie queue while screaming socialism every time someone wants to regulate a bank.

If we are truly a Nation built upon Judeo-Christian ethics, I believe that there is a part of the Bible where the protagonist with long hair and a beard says to judge not lest you be judged or to only throw the first stone if you are without sin.  Thirteen years of Catholic schooling and that bit (along with throwing the moneychangers out of the Temple and the meek inheriting the Earth…more on those another time) seems to resonate strongly with me.  Should we all have an opinion on the matter if we wish?  Yes.  Should we all be free to express it?  Yes.  Should we decide what happens to Rep. Weiner in his public life?  Not unless we live in his district.  Ultimately, it is up to him and the people that he represents to decide whether or not he is fit to govern.  He has has broken no laws that would force him to be removed from office.  If it is found out that he has done so, then he should be removed by the legal process that the Constitution sets up for the House to remove elected members from office.  If not, he should be free to serve out the rest of his term until his constituents decide whether or not he should continue to represent him in the next election.  As for personal morality in regards to weiners, I am not going to judge unless it involves Sahlen’s or Wardynski’s.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. June 10, 2011

    Roy,
    I agree that the acutal behavior is in his personal life and should be left out of his political public life. I don’t care to whom he sends pictures (assuming it’s legal, etc…). I do have an issue with the lying about the issue and falsely accusing people of attempting a political takedown (while I also think that Breitbart should be sealed in a 55 gallon drum as a public service to this country).
    Although Mankindof raised an interesting thought for me to ponder, “why is lying about an irrelevant issue relevant”, and I’m working through that, but it is. When the picture came out and the Congressman began receiving questions, had he simply said, “that’s my personal life, go pound sand,” I would have been all for it. But he didn’t say that, he didn’t choose to have a “teachable moment” (a phrase which makes me want to swallow a bullet, but there it is) about the inherent hypocrisy (that you rightly point out) in American politics. He chose to lie about it and concoct (so tempted to spell that “concockt”) a story in which he was the victim of a rightwing takedown, one that would actually help him politically and increase his support among his base and even among rational independents as another example of dirty pool of which we have so many examples already. The problem, in my eyes, is that he has now given credence to the takedown artists, making it harder to return to reality the next time they ply their wares.

    Like our parents used to say, it’s not what he did, it’s that he lied about it.

  2. wes permalink
    June 10, 2011

    Roy is full of shit. Being a US Congressman “matters” in this country, and I think we should expect the highest from our leaders in personal and professional matters. Yes, they will all fail to one degree or another, as we do, but at least we set the bar high enough. Roy’s article simply takes the position that we cannot do anything to stop it, so lay down and take it.
    I call bullshit. We should always be expecting the highest from our elected officials, no matter what. If he/she cannot hacvk it, so what? There will always be others to try. Let’s always give a new person a chance to be moral.
    As far as affecting others, Roy is twice wrong. This is not a case of one consenting adult with another. This is a married man beginning to cheat on his pregnant wife. Contrary to what Roy thinks, it does affect more than just the Congressman.

  3. June 10, 2011

    Wes,
    Yes, being a US Congressman “matters” in this country, no doubt. Many things should be left up to the constiuents of a district. The Congressman committed no crime (unless adultery is still a crime in NY and his actions fit the elements of it) of which I am aware. So, since the Congressman engaged in legal activity, judgment about the underlying activity SHOULD be left up to the voters in his district to decide if he is who they want as their representative. Again, where my opinion joins with yours is when he denies the behavior and claims that he is a victim of a political attack. By denying his actions and presenting the false chain of events, he is denying the voters ability to fully assess his capability to represent them in Congress.

    With that said, we SHOULD demand more of our representatives, they SHOULD be held to a higher standard of behavior because they hold offices of PUBLIC trust, and yeah, sorry that DOES mean that behavior that doesn’t matter for others matters for them.

  4. angela permalink
    June 11, 2011

    It’s not all about texting, idiot, its about putting your
    weenie out there for all the world to see. It makes
    Americans appear immoral. I’m sure there are plenty
    of people in this world that are laughing at him and at us.

  5. June 11, 2011

    Angela,
    You really think that the rest of the world wasn’t laughing at us before this? You really think that we didn’t appear immoral as a country before this? If this was the only evidence the rest of the world had for our immorality, we’d be doing just fine.

  6. June 12, 2011

    To answer a few of the comments above: this weinering does not make Americans seem any more immoral than Jersey Shore, Survivor, or MTV Cribs does. All it proves is that in democracies as well as dictatorships, those in power often succumb to the same “sins” that everyone else does. I wish that our elected officials, as well as our business professionals, athletes, “stars,” and other public figures were always “shining lights” that could lead the way for all of us. The lesson of modernity is that although we all wish for this to be true, it is not or has never been so except in rare circumstances (even Ghandi said some racist shit in his time and MLK supposedly “lusted in his heart” al la Jimmy Carter). The best we can hope for is that those that we trust in positions of power and influence will act in their official capacity in a way that serves the public interest and not just in ways that serve their own self-interest. That should be the standard for judgement.
    Roy

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