Sunday, July 03, 2011

Le Fin de Weiner

I'm a couple of weeks late in commenting on this, partly due to factors in my life beyond my control, but wanted to throw my two cents worth in before the story completely vanished from the news cycle.

In my previous post on this scandal, I wrote that I wasn't sure if Weiner should resign and that it was between him and his constituents.  However, I believe that in retrospect his resignation was the right thing to do.

When you look at the matter in perspective, Weiner's resignation was not that terrible a loss for liberal Democrats.   For starters, even if this scandal had never happened, it was highly likely that Weiner would have ran for mayor of New York City in 2013, and if he had won, he would have assumed that office in January of 2014.  So as much as his supporters will miss him, Weiner only had, at most, a term and a half in the House left to him.

Second, due to population changes, New York State is slated to lose two seats in the House of Representatives, and Weiner's seat was on the cutting block.  If Weiner had not resigned, his district and seat would have been erased even sooner than 2013. 

What ultimately burns a lot of liberals about this affair is that it lent credibility to partisan smear merchants like Andrew Breitbart.  But as someone who considers himself more or less a liberal, I can't help but put 100% of the blame on Anthony Weiner for all of this.  No one forced him to behave the way he did.  His real fault, in my eyes, is that he lied about sending the pictures, claiming that his account had been hacked.  For over a week, Weiner's supporters publicly defended him because they believed he was telling the truth, only to have the rug pulled out from under them when he finally confessed the truth.  That, and the revelations that there were even more pictures, eroded whatever good will toward him that had remained.  

Maybe if Weiner had owned up to sending the pictures as soon as the scandal erupted, he might have salvaged some measure of credibility.  Then again, Weiner had a reputation as an abrasive personality who rankled even some of his Democratic colleagues.  I suspect not a few of them were glad to see him go.

A valid question that the Weiner scandal raises is to what degree should an elected official's (or even a candidate's) private conduct impact on that person's fitness for office?  In Weiner's case, his behavior was seen as weird or creepy, especially given that he was only recently married.  Did marriage bore him that quickly that sending pictures of his penis to women he never met seemed like a productive use of his time?   What was particularly embarrassing for Weiner, as Bill Maher pointed out on a recent episode of Real Time, was that the former congressman was the center of a sex scandal and he didn't even get laid.

I thought of another potential scenario that I want to throw out for consideration.  Pretend a group of partisan activists looking to take down a firebrand politician from an opposing party smuggled a web cam into a hotel room where that politician was spending the night.  Perhaps they're hoping to get footage of him cheating on his wife by having sex with a prostitute.  But instead of hiring an escort, the politician is filmed unpacking a sex doll and then spends the next hour using it for sexual gratification.

There's no doubt that such footage, if made public, would be highly embarrassing.  But is it really something that should destroy a politician's career?  Granted, sex dolls aren't exactly in the mainstream.  However, is anyone really harmed by what is little more than an act of glorifed masturbation?  Or, to put it another way, should we hold politicians to a higher standard than we hold other people when it comes to sex?  After all, if you found out the morning shift manager at your local Starbucks pleasured himself with a sex doll, are you going to demand that he be fired?

As for the sex doll scenario, the inspiration for it came from me remembering an episode of Nip/Tuck wherein series regular Kimber had a sex doll made in her likeness.  Below is a scene from the episode in which Kimber solicits Sean and Christian to make some improvements to her doll's vagina.

I couldn't find the clip on YouTube, but later on in the episode, a drunk and emotionally distraught Sean has a graphic encounter with the Kimber doll.  To date, I believe that Dylan Walsh's performance in that scene is one of the bravest ever filmed for a television program.

1 comment:

Poodles said...

It's nice to read a NYer's POV on this issue. I was saddened by the whole thing. I really like Weiner. I hope he can make a comeback at some point.