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Hendrik Hertzberg begins: "Of all the many political sex scandals of the last twenty-five years or so, none has had such a high ratio of political lethality to concrete caddishness as the Weiner affair. In the caddishness category, consider what Congressman Weiner did not do ..."

Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)



What Anthony Weiner Did Not Do

By Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker

19 June 11

 

f all the many political sex scandals of the last twenty-five years or so, none has had such a high ratio of political lethality to concrete caddishness as the Weiner affair. In the caddishness category, consider what Congressman Weiner did not do:

  • Commit adultery

  • Fornicate

  • Hook up

  • Patronize prostitutes

  • Seduce an intern

  • Seduce a congressional page

  • Get divorced

  • Get divorced serially

  • Get divorced with children at vulnerable ages

  • Hypocritically embrace prudish "family values"

  • Advocate "abstinence"

  • Lie about sex under oath

  • Demonize his own sexual orientation

  • Demand that some other politician resign because of some sexual misbehavior

  • Break up somebody else's marriage

  • Make an assistant take the fall for getting a mistress pregnant

  • Fly to South America to see a mistress on Father's Day while leaving wifey home with the kids

  • Pay off a mistress or a mistress's husband

  • Have a mistress

  • Break a law

There are plenty of strictly political reasons why Anthony Weiner was forced to walk the plank while others whose behavior was more morally reprehensible were not, and those reasons are getting a thorough airing at the moment. But certain cultural, or media-cultural, factors are perhaps more interesting.

The bad things Weiner did do - his sins, let's call them for convenience, without embracing the churchy implications - were, once revealed, a hundred per cent visible. And a hundred per cent of them were visible. They were a hundred per cent documented. No he said/she said this time, no need for witnesses, no need for testimony. No need for "evidence" - because the evidence was the sin, and the sin the evidence.

Weiner's sins consisted of nothing but his own documentation of them. The documentation was the sin, not the acts documented. Without the documentation, not only could no sin be proved, no sin could be committed. Is flexing one's pecs in the mirror a sin? Is baring one's penis when there is no one else in the room? Unlike, say, adultery, these become sins only when they are converted to pixels. I suppose flirtation may be considered a sin, especially when it consists of sharing (as distinct from enacting) an explicit sexual fantasy with a person not one's spouse. But what if the person is hundreds or thousands of miles away, and what if the sharing isn't even in real time? It's a sin to lie, but is it a sin to tweet? Apparently.

In 1987, a photograph of Gary Hart on a yacht called Monkey Business with Donna Rice perched on his lap torpedoed his promising Presidential campaign. But it wasn't so much the picture that was fatal, it was the broader story for which the picture - which, by the way, didn't become public until after he had withdrawn from the race - was an illustration. In Weiner's case, the pictures do not illustrate the story. The pictures are the story. There is nothing behind them. There is nothing more. Everything is up front. As the saying goes, nothing is left to the imagination.

Imagine, though, that nothing had been left to the imagination in certain other cases. In one such case, there was a blue dress with a stain on it. But what if there had been a video, or even a snapshot, of the moment the dress received the stain? What if the picture itself had been the whole point? What if every detail of every sex scandal of the last quarter-century, every word and every scene, had been photographed and archived, available for global retrieval at the click of a mouse? How high would Weinergate rate on the shock-o-meter? Not very, is my guess.

Weiner's sins, being wholly online, basically onanistic, pathetically "immature," and totally without direct fleshly carnality, are literally ridiculous. They lack the swaggering macho that pushes more traditional, arguably crueler male transgressions - having affairs, whoring, fathering children out of wedlock - into the comparatively (though only comparatively) safer territory of "boys will be boys" and "men are like that."

One more factor that comes to mind: the particular media addictions of the political class. I suspect that, unlike normal people, a preponderance of that class - commentators, political reporters and editors, operatives, "strategists," aides, news producers, etc. - spends several hours of every day watching cable-news television (or having it drone and flicker in the background), reading political blogs, sending and receiving e-mails about the latest political uproar, and talking about same to other members of the same class, on the phone or face to face. Actual office-holding politicians don't necessarily have the time for all that, but they live inside the bubble it creates. The ambient atmosphere is one of constant overexcitement, hysteria, and sometimes unbearable tension, all focussed on the story of the day. That may be a reason why the protagonists of political scandals are dispatched more quickly and more mercilessly than in the past.

Except when they aren't, of course. Senator Vitter is still Senator Vitter. But that's another story.

 

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-91 # Pickwicky 2011-06-19 09:23
I am encouraged that the Democratic Party leadership requested Weiner's resignation--it sets them apart from Republican leadership. I'm discouraged that so many liberals sugar coat Weiner's behavior. This suggests that people on the left think 'liberal' is equivalent to 'licentious.' It isn't. Even liberals and progressives must conform to standards of decorum--no matter who else chooses to do what and to whom. Mr. Hertzberg, much of what you state is true, but irrelevant.
 
 
-65 # Lenore Rapalski 2011-06-19 10:43
I do agree with you. I think Herzog's POV is interesting - in fact it makes Weiner look more pathetic in the way he sort of defended him as opposed to coming across as outraged.

A. Weiner is just a sad soul. It seems as though he had some emotional developmental issues growing up. Now he has to take care of that business. It was so clear that he was lying from the get-go.

Lenore R.
 
 
-18 # Pickwicky 2011-06-20 09:53
Lenore--given the number of 'thumbs down' we received, I'm reminded that a number of so-called liberals/progre ssives' think part of the meaning of being liberal is to "let it all hang out." And that's one reason why liberals get a bad name.

It's time to distinguish between liberal politics and licentious behavior. Many moderates and liberals despise Consevative demands to control women's bodies, to demand 'god's' fiats, to eliminate and control homosexuality, and impose their so-called family values, et al. These non-political demands hurt the Consevative cause. In the same way, Liberals who think anything goes, in particular, exhibitionism, porn, any lewd public behavior, or even private drug parties, etc. --it all hurts politcal Liberal causes.
 
 
+23 # kalpal 2011-06-20 10:27
Unlike Ensign and Vitter who are both scofflaws yet one of them is still in office because the ethics committee needs at least another decade to determine if his paying a prostitute is actually offensive or just plain stupid.
 
 
+61 # Linotypist 2011-06-19 12:10
Only people who believe in beheading gay people and stoning adulterers really have any problem with what Weiner did. It's called "private life" for a reason.
 
 
-21 # Byronator 2011-06-19 13:07
"Private life" ends when you purposefully expose your genitals on the Internet. Then it's all public, baby!
 
 
-11 # genierae 2011-06-19 16:54
Linotypist: Anthony Wiener seems to be addicted to sex, and so he needs therapy because left untreated this will only get worse. The fact that he is not in control of his body suggests that his judgment on other matters may be compromised. And he lied about this for days. When his sex life affects his ability to serve the people, its no longer private. He needed to resign to get the help that he needs, and then he can come back stronger than ever.
 
 
+12 # Scott Alber 2011-06-19 14:22
As a Dem I am also encouraged that Dem leadership forced Anthony to resign. It may have been different had he immediately or at least within 24 hours owned up to his actions. Instead he went around the media circuit and said repeatedly albeit not too convincingly that he had been hacked. That is what sealed his fate. That and the fact that his behavior bascially negated the win in district 26 for our side. It was both infuriating and more importantly showed just how reckless and self-centered Mr. Wenier's judgement could be. He knew the stakes and still decided to take the gamble and then only by force did he accept the consequences.
 
 
+52 # Robert Goode 2011-06-19 15:40
No liberals (if I make speak at least for myself) don't find his behavior "licentious", it is simply not the moral equivalence of, say, Senator David Vitter's behavior. Or Ensign's. Or even Clinton's. It is admirable indeed that Democrats adhere to a higher standard but unfortunately, on the unlevel playing field, political considerations are also important (hence the fact that right wing hit pig Andrew Breitbart ran with the story, the better to knock off a prized liberal voice). So taking "the high road" can be swell getting to heaven, but self defeating in this very dangerous political atmosphere.
 
 
+5 # genierae 2011-06-19 17:00
I heard that the real reason Democrats didn't defend him was that none of them like him. He is sort of a prickly personality and a loner to boot. I also think that his bluntness has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
 
 
+43 # Natasha 2011-06-19 19:15
It's true. Corporate Democrats-- read, all but about five- don't like hearing truth spoken to power. It's uncomfortable. They didn't like Weiner for the same reason all of us do-- he's an awesome advocate for the people. Have you seen his youtube videos? The man is amazing. Only paralleled by Barney Frank, and far more in-your-face. A true Brooklynite. And dammit we still want him in office. His post-scandal ratings are about 65%. What are Harry Reid's, on a good day? 11%?
 
 
+62 # Carbonman1950 2011-06-19 16:14
I neither defend nor condemn his truly foolish lapse of judgement. I leave that to others know the details of the marriage agreement between him and his wife or who believe themselves sufficiently unblemished, morally, to comment.

I do, however, regret the loss of so forthright and eloquent a critic of the inherently destructive and all too frequently immoral policies espoused by modern "conservatives".

His characterizatio n of the Republican healthcare plan was both witty and accurate. As time as passed and we've seen the tax, healthcare, and Medicare proposals made by the reactionaries we have learned that it was also not the least bit exaggerated.

I wish him well. Hope he, his wife, and their marriage heal and hope, in the future, to hear from him again. Without the restraints of legislative "decorum" he may yet become a forceful agitator for constructive, caring, ethical public policy.
 
 
+3 # Anne Palmer 2011-06-23 17:18
I agree with you, Natasha. This is about the good ole boy network seizing an opportunity to oust an upstart who does not fit in with their corporate coziness and back room deals. Show me a politician who has never uttered a bald-faced lie at some point in his/her career and I will show you a politician who has never been elected to office. All this pontificating about Republican -stylee "family values" is just so much hypocrisy and smoke screen diversions from actual issues. So the man has a nice package and enjoys sharing it with unknown women from afar. Welcome to 10,000+ websites patronized by such "luminaries" as Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas.If Weiner's wife is not concerned, why should we be? This is not about sex or fidelity or exhibitionism or even the abuse of power. It is about diversionary tactics, the smell of blood in the media-fwhipped waters and the chance to put a NY J** with an enviable piece of equipment in his place. I hope Weiner comes back and gets re-elected by his constituents who were noticeable absent from the frenzied screams for his 'head'.
 
 
+1 # Bill Bjornson 2011-06-24 01:01
Weiner didn't have the 'wide stance' either but it was political death anyway. Something wasn't connecting properly and it may be that he'd rather be living in Africa or Sud America doing something worthwhile other than witnessing the filth of the U.S. Congress and he let 'fate' take its course. He doesn't get caught, he stays. He gets caught, he gets a ticket to the thing he'd much rather be doing only he doesn't know it yet. Let's spin the wheel...click(s end). Naw. Too simple.
 
 
+147 # Barbara K 2011-06-19 09:27
Weiner did a really stupid thing, but it was not illegal. What was illegal is what Breitbart and the Cons did in circulating porn over the internets. Weiner sent it from his private account to another private account, he did not pass it around for others to see. There should be charges brought against all who showed any porn photos from Weiner and he needs a lawyet to sue the crap out of those who hacked his account.
 
 
+7 # kalpal 2011-06-20 10:32
Distribution of porn may be illegal but it is rarely punished. Even when punished it is a fine and the right wing has sufficient wealth to keep paying such fines in an effort to condemn teh behavior of others who disagree that America's peasants must be thrown to the wolves if they become ill or lose their jobs.
 
 
+66 # Barbara K 2011-06-19 09:29
How do we know that the genitalia in question does not belong to Breitbart himself? He could be passing around his own and claiming it is Weiner's. Maybe someone should check him out.
 
 
+114 # Blackhole2001 2011-06-19 09:38
Hertzberg left out Weiner did not feel up women's boobs [The Gropenator in CA]. He shouldn't have stepped down. He should have fought it.
 
 
+82 # cabotool 2011-06-19 09:59
I count 18 things the Weiner did NOT do. I want to see the 18 things that Weiner did not do taken to the limit to remove those people from any government office. Now THAT would be justice. But for how long has the poor blindfolded lady with scales been banished from our beautiful country?
 
 
+84 # consuelo buck 2011-06-19 10:00
the rupert murdoch news domination is also part of this........... the media needs to get a grip on its vouyerism.
 
 
-84 # Desia A. Ritson 2011-06-19 10:05
But what Anthony Weiner did do ; Was Lie, that is worse than being a thief, one can never trust a liar.By resigning now , he has lined his coffer for money for the Mayor of New York City campaign, which he will win. He is still a liar, it would have been so easy to tell the truth as he had not broken any laws or done the things you state above.
 
 
+74 # myungbluth 2011-06-19 11:56
It's true - Weiner lied. Lying is not good. However, you say that as if you didn't know that Bush lied, Cheney lied, Obama lied, Rove lied, Boehner lied, McConnel lied, Clinton lied, Ryan lied, Spitzer lied, Ensign lied, Craig lied, Rice lied, Gingrich, Kennedy, Reagan, etc. - HOW MANY MORE WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE YOU REALIZE THAT EVERYONE IN POLITICS LIES!!!! So what's your point?
 
 
+22 # Doubting Tom 2011-06-19 20:02
In a revealing moment in Congressional testimony last week, Secretary Gates said straight out that nations lie to each other all the time. All have secrets. Lying starts at the top about all kinds of things--if you can get by with it.
 
 
+4 # bartman 2011-06-20 18:26
[quote name="myungblut h"]It's true - Weiner lied. Lying is not good.

However, that pretty much sums up an ugly reality for our country, our politics and our leaders. and the hypocrisy in the media and popular culture whenever such so-called scandals surface is as predictable as is the inevitability of their happening. how many more indeed? how about most of our leaders since our founding.
 
 
+3 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:45
Absolutely! The hypocricy of the whole thing is a lot more dishonest than anything weiner-man said. If this was about "honesty", then why can't we have an honest discussion about applying these "standards" CONSISTENTLY AND ACROSS THE BOARD. The people showing sudden and selective moral outrage about this one instance are 1,000 times more dishonest than weiner-man ever was.
 
 
+24 # Progressive Patriot 2011-06-20 02:56
Yeah, you can't trust a liar ... what about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? Didn't they lie? Their lies cost at least tens of thousands of lives, in two countries. Dubyah is a habitual liar, he's been doing for decades.
 
 
-13 # Pickwicky 2011-06-20 09:36
Progressive: you imply so much--beware of liars, avoid liars, don't vote for known liars. Voters must be informed, and that takes a free press qua free press. We now know that Weiner is a liar, a sneak, and an exhibitionist-- by his own volition. The devil didn't make him do it--and neither did any Republican.

Okay, my dears, slam on the negative votes!
 
 
+5 # billy bob 2011-06-20 21:57
Can you tell me how we could "avoid liars"? Do "honest" people get elected? Not unless they represent voters who all agree about something. Politics isn't the art of telling the truth. It's the art of getting things done. Carter was a fairly honest man. How well did that work out for him?
 
 
+3 # Pickwicky 2011-06-21 09:47
Billy--campaign s, in a real sense, are vetting processes. We rely on our press to honestly present the candidates history and political principles. Sometimes there are unknowns that may emerge only after the election, and adjustments may have to be made. I believe honest people exist. (Read Lincoln's writings.) I don't believe that politics and truth are mutually exclusive. And remember, some people may not want to hear the truth--can't face the truth--even rely on their own non-facts. Some people didn't want to listen to Carter.

And thank you, Billy, for your second post (2011-06-20 22:42) and your gracious remarks.
 
 
+4 # billy bob 2011-06-21 10:45
Lincoln was not an honest man. Lincoln was a polished politician before his time and was marketed as "an honest man".

There are many HARD truths that are not, or CAN not be spoken in American politics today. It is a matter of survival for ALL politicians to NEVER openly admit any of these truths. They are all unpopular facts. When politicians openly admit that they are facts, they are ridiculed and become no longer viable candidates. That is ALSO part of the vetting process.
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:42
Negative votes are just votes. Don't take it personally. This isn't a conservative dominated web site. All opinions are welcome here. Negative votes are just opinions, no less valid than yours.
 
 
+4 # BigD 2011-06-21 19:39
Lying that resulted in over 4000 US citizens dead and who knows how many hundreds of thousands of other citizens dead is a heinous thing. Lying about sex is not so heinous unless it happened to be rape or molestation of a minor.
 
 
+3 # BigD 2011-06-21 19:37
I would be worried if he had lied about killing someone or intending kill someone. I would be a bit less worried if he had lied under oath. As it stands he lied about something every single person on the planet has lied about: sex. Or at least sexual content where he was involved. He's done nothing more than prove himself human.
 
 
-24 # AML 2011-06-19 10:18
Unfortunately, a picture is worth a thousand words.
 
 
+13 # melody johnson 2011-06-19 13:27
I know what you mean-- Can you imagine how many times Breitbart looked at those pictures??? What about you-- did you take a peek or two?
 
 
+1 # AML 2011-06-26 15:21
I'm not interested in whatever was sent; I'm interested in the loss of a real tiger at work, and how we can get him back on the scene.
 
 
+1 # AML 2011-06-26 15:19
What I mean here is that even though the others perpetrated far greater social crimes, and most were actual crimes,the news cycle works with images, which were missing with the others. Just a couple of images were enough to bring down a good man.
 
 
+38 # fredboy 2011-06-19 10:20
Weiner needs help and his resignation was the right thing to do. It also showed he was behaviorally above those guilty of your long list of wrongs--he was mature enough to take responsibility for his actions and inactions. Perhaps it's time the public demand this of all our politicians and public employees.
 
 
+56 # Sue Swift 2011-06-19 13:00
If Weiner "needs help" so to a gazillion of other people who indulge in sexting.

Okay, he was stupid and tacky, and compounded the error by lying. But IMO if David Vetter still holds political office Weiner should also.
 
 
+4 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:38
EXACTLY. A little "moral" consistency would be nice, wouldn't it?
 
 
+55 # Lee Black 2011-06-19 10:44
The media have pounced on this because it is so juicy and so easy to turn into a media circus. The Republicans have pounced on it because so few Democrats are caught in these kinds of scandals, it's political balm to them that they can point to 'they do it too.'

It is a distraction from real issues - something else both groups (media and Republicans) - need.
 
 
+91 # Christy B 2011-06-19 10:45
I can't blame Congressman Weiner for resigning, however much I wish he hadn't. The media engineered this entire mess--deciding that this sordid (but ultimately meaningless and unimportant) story trumped our failing economy, Arab Spring, Repub attempts to kill Medicare and even Social Security, and on and on and on....And anyone who says that he wouldn't lie when faced with a personal, humiliating truth about his sexual proclivities is, himself, lying.
 
 
+30 # Sue Swift 2011-06-19 13:01
he should simply have stated, "hey, this is private and I have no comment about it."
 
 
+31 # photonracer 2011-06-19 13:24
The media did not engineer this mess. Breitbart did. The media continue to indulge in mental masturbation and encourage their subscribers to do the same and encourage other addicts to follow along.
When our society decides titillation is no longer as valuable as true and accurate information, the reporting will change. Old Rupert and the Kochs understand that intimately. Sex sells.
 
 
+21 # Debbie Watson 2011-06-19 15:34
Yes the media is part of this equation. All media is corporate owned. And as Micheal Moore best stated it, a corporation will sell you the rope to hang them with if there is profit to be made. Weiner had to go, because of his out-spoken support for the middle and low-income classes of this country. Koch Bros are feeding their self-interest by funding the tea party, as well as, pacs that promote the issues of the uber rich. They are concerned with more tax breaks for the wealthy, watering down financial legislation, gutting laws that protect our environment, anti public education funding, etc, all due to the bottom line of amassing more wealth than their great great grandchildren could spend. They funded opponents of Russ Feingold, Alan Grayson, who also spoke out for the common working stiff, and THEY'RE GONE. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and now is that time. Hopefully when they have the election to replace Weiner, his constiuency (the 58 percent) that did't want him to resign will write in his name. Screw, the pious Dem leadership. There are all kinds of obsene behavior, thowing your constiuency's best interest under the bus for brownie points with lobbyist is the worst kind of PERVERSION in my book!!!!
 
 
-6 # Pickwicky 2011-06-20 11:06
Weiner is to blame for his actions. Breibart as reprehensible as he is, and the press, as over-focused as they may have been, were only the messengers.
 
 
+5 # billy bob 2011-06-20 21:58
The problem with the press is the SELECTIVITY of their "message". Why are we not getting the message about Vitter? The press isn't "only a messager". It's a political participant.
 
 
+1 # Pickwicky 2011-06-23 09:54
I got the "message about Vitter" from the press--over and over again.
 
 
+72 # Regina 2011-06-19 10:54
Rachel Maddow was right: "It's O.K. of you're a Republican." And the Republicans are all over that list at the top of this article.
 
 
-5 # Pickwicky 2011-06-20 11:53
Rachel Maddow, and many other people here, need to distinguish between what is truly okay, and what's not okay, but what the Republicans will allow.
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:37
It may not be ok with you when repuglicans do much worse things, but it certainly isn't something we're talking about nearly as much as the private completely legal life of weiner-man.
 
 
+75 # Im Skeptical 2011-06-19 10:56
People lie about sex all the time. It doesn't make them liars about anything else. In general, the question is either rude or the subject is no one else's business, whether they think so or not. What pics Weiner exchanged with other consenting adults, who by the way were just as much a part of this as he was, and just as "guilty," was no one's business but his and theirs. They could opt out at any time. It did not affect his job, and the hysterical Dem leadership should have refused comment. The media are voyeuristic sharks, and of course the Republican hypocrits were eager to "get" Weiner. They have far worse still in office, on their side of the aisle.
 
 
+13 # Marvinsky 2011-06-19 12:53
It would indeed be interesting to see Democrats take the high road, shine the hypocrites on, and ask the public to really think hard about whether they need to throw stones.
 
 
+25 # calpoet 2011-06-19 11:26
Another thing Anthony Weiner didn't do is choose his surname which gave this story the legs it had and provided a field day for tabloid headline writers and late night comics for weeks.
 
 
-4 # Sarah Blackmun 2011-06-19 13:39
Ironically, the correct pronunciation of Weiner would be "winer," not "weener," as in "Ruben-stine," not "Ruben-steen." Better not to try disguising your ethnicity by mispronounces your own surname.
 
 
+7 # basilissa 2011-06-19 19:43
Sarah Blackmun,

Where did you ever get the idea that the mispronunciatio n of his name was 1) his idea or 2) an attempt to disguise his ethnicity? His district is heavily Jewish, so there would be no point in disguising the fact that he is Jewish, and he never tried to do that. Ethnic names of all kinds get mispronounced in this country. I am sure he would have had an easier time growing up as a "Whiner" rather than a "Wiener" anyway.
 
 
+32 # Guangzhou 2011-06-19 11:39
He didn't leave a cancer-stricken wife in her hospital bed for another woman, and he didn't leave the second woman having come down with Multiple Sclerosis for yet a third woman who appears to have a frozen Stepford countenance.
 
 
-10 # Sarah Blackmun 2011-06-19 13:42
Too many face lists, ya think?
 
 
+1 # BigD 2011-06-21 19:42
He didn't have the wife sign divorce papers while in the hospital and under duress.
 
 
+3 # Jerryball 2011-06-19 11:40
As William Shakespeare aptly wrote in Hamlet: "aye, there's the rub," OR NOT.
 
 
+10 # Jim Cremin 2011-06-19 11:41
Once again the self-righteous "Right" comes out blazing against Anthony. I agree with one of the comments that Breitbart probably set the whole thing up with his "evil" methods to ruin anyone on the "Left".
 
 
+2 # Merschrod 2011-06-19 11:42
A. Weiner's behavior was the same as Rep. Lee's behavior - stupid, immature, and not what an intelligent voter would accept or expect. Better that they leave the public stage. The other, stupid and criminal congress folks should be expelled officially, but they and their supporters are "sinvergüenzas"
 
 
+14 # I.R.Heller 2011-06-19 11:51
I wish for him that his wife sticks with him and considers this a stupid prank as well - and that is it. I hope this teaches everyone that it is not safe to be so "open" in the internet. There is no real privacy. And, once you go public it is public for ever. So don´t say/write anything that your "enemy" cannot read. -
 
 
+9 # Anarchist 23 2011-06-19 13:56
Does that mean there might still be a nude picture of Sen. Scott (?) from MA who began his career as a centerfold in Playgirl? I hear he was quite a 'hottie' in his day-perhaps more than Weiner's weiner? He's a Senator, too!
 
 
+15 # SteveM 2011-06-19 11:55
The list above is reason enough for Anthony Weiner to rehab, revive, and then re-run for public office. He will be back, folks!
 
 
+1 # e urdanoff 2011-06-19 12:02
really, Rachel? How about slick Willy Clinton? and all the Kennedys? and Elliott? and Barney Frank? Vitter should also resign--he campaigned on "family values" and all on both sides of the aisle who have soiled their images with betrayal of public trust should resign and relinquish their phenomenal financial rewards for holding public office.
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:33
You left out a few dozen other repuglican examples. The thing about Vitter is that he's still in office and no one's doing anything to remove him. The other thing about Vitter is that he's not only a sinner, but a criminal.
 
 
+25 # Yakpsyche 2011-06-19 12:08
I think the laudable thing, a factor which distinguishes Democrats from Republicans nowadays, is that there was an element of shame evoked which led to a resignation. This shame is a necessary component of humanism. It is absent in psychopaths. Not all those who have no shame are psychopaths, and not all Republicans are psychopaths, but I think the factor of shame/no shame is a pretty clear divider between these groups.
 
 
-5 # Colleen Clark 2011-06-19 12:20
Weiner is responsible for behaving stupidly and recklessly thereby embarrassing his party and progressive causes, to say nothing of humiliating himself and his wife.

How could anyone in political life think he could pose sexual pictures on the internet and not be found out? Weiner didn't image he had the likes of Breitbart gunning for him? And why was he endlessly on the airwaves trying to duck responsibility?

The problem is not his violation of norms. The problem is leaving meet out for the lions and then saying it's not fair that they ate it. After all it was on private property.
 
 
-2 # Lulie 2011-06-20 08:48
Colleen, you are absolutely right. It's not WHAT he did; it's THAT he did it. His sin is stupidity. He deprived progressives of a champion by being stupid and reckless.
 
 
+19 # angelfish 2011-06-19 12:41
I hope Mr. Weiner runs again and is returned to the Political scene fairly soon. His constituents have lost a strong voice for those who have none. The blatant hypocrisy displayed by the Democratic Leadership, I believe, was far more perverted than anything Mr. Weiner did. The REAL perverts continue blithely on with not even a hint of censure in the air or admission of guilt or atonement by the creeps who ACTED on their Perversions, got Down and Dirty and Pressed the Flesh, literally and figuratively! The Dems best begin to act like Caesar's Wife, lest they get hoisted on their OWN Petards! Hypocrisy lives on...on BOTH sides of the aisle!
 
 
+24 # teineitalia 2011-06-19 12:47
There could be a happy ending here (no pun intended). Anthony Weiner could run again for his seat, and let his district decide if he should represent them. The polls are showing his constituents are on his side, and aren't as concerned about his pecadillos as the lame-stream media would have us believe.
What he did was dumb, and lying about it was incredibly dumb; but it is ultimately between him and his wife. If she supports him, and his constituents vote him back in, I look forward to his standing with those who are willing to fight for progressive ideals.
 
 
+7 # Virginia 2011-06-19 12:53
There was an article written by a former KGB now Russian Professor in the Wall Street Journal in 2008 called "As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of US". You can still find it on the Internet. Professor Panarin predicted that mass immigration, economic decline and moral degradation will trigger a civil war along with the collapse of the dollar. Folks, honestly look at it here - we're seriously heading in that direction with the help of the mainstream media.

Get over Weiner. It was stupid but it is also a sign of the moral hazards were are facing financially and socially. America this is a non-partisan issue - CLEAN UP YOUR ACT!

We have an administration and Congress that won't outright talk about the securitization fraud that has affected millions of American homeowners and lost pension and retirement funds for millions of unsuspecting workers - a revelation yet to come and probably ignite the civil war.

My suggestion is don't elect any more politicians not willing to discuss these issues with a solution - because otherwise we're going to allow these predictions to become reality. Luckily, I like Chinese food.
 
 
+14 # billy bob 2011-06-19 12:55
"What if every detail of every sex scandal of the last quarter-century , every word and every scene, had been photographed and archived, available for global retrieval at the click of a mouse?"

Then the punishment or lack thereof would STILL be completely dependant on whether or not the perpetrator was a liberal or a conservative.
 
 
+23 # Elaine B. Holtz 2011-06-19 13:22
Here is a letter I wrote to the editor:
Dear Editor,
Why do we make such a big deal over a man taking a photograph of his bulging shorts? I do not understand those people who say it is immoral and are outraged yet do not make a peep when we drop bombs from planes killing women and children or when our drones kill innocent families. Yet when this photograph was twittered the media overwhelmed us about this along with providing tons of analysis. I never saw so many talking heads talking about Wiener’s wiener.

On her radio show Randy Rhodes said it simply "it’s a guy thing." As a woman I think it is about time these guys start showing some bulges or skin so we can make comparisons just like they have done forever around women’s breasts.
Ethics Investigation -

Hey Nancy where are the weapons of mass destruction – no ethics investigation around that lie, this guy only showed his bulging shorts and no one was killed.

Worried about the children? Its ok for almost every TV channel to show violence beyond anything I grew up with but show the bulge, can't have any of that. Lighten up folks there are more important things to debate and obsess about.
Elaine B. Holtz
 
 
+5 # genierae 2011-06-19 17:27
Well said, Elaine! Amen!
 
 
+2 # Pickwicky 2011-06-20 11:20
Badly said, Elaine--Many of us made a huge outcry at military atrocities done in our name and with our nickel. Didn't you hear us? Neither did the Bush administration.

Far more than 'bulges' are shown on TV--I think you need to update your information.

The fact that there exists far more important matters for the US only emphasizes the undesirability of being distracted by sophomoric porn behavior by a Congressman--wh o should have known better.
 
 
+6 # rog j 2011-06-19 14:00
Breitbart has advertised his predilections to the whole world. Why did he cherish those pictures alone if not to satisfy deviant urges? Though his pretense is to a higher purpose is Breitbart unwittingly revealing the contrary? If so we have a peculiar perversion combined with monstrous hypocrisy.
 
 
-5 # Cousin Brucie 2011-06-19 14:11
Well-written. However, one of Hertzberg’s main arguments is that Weiner did not commit the listed scandals numerous other politicians have been caught doing and is only guilty of what he was exposed for. Do we know for certain that Weiner does not frequent prostitutes? Do we know that he has not had affairs? No.
What does it matter? If we find the contractor doing work in our home is having an extra-marital affair, do we cancel any further work from them? As Hertzberg points out, what Weiner was caught doing is not illegal. True. But if he were to dance on the floor of Congress in a speedo wearing pasties, it would not be illegal either. But how effective can he be having made a joke of himself?
Weiner has in my opinion hypocritically embraced “family values.” In February, he asked that a public statue in Queens, NY (The Trimph of Civic Virtue) be removed because he felt the statue was offensive.
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:30
"Do we know for certain that Weiner does not frequent prostitutes?"

Do we know that he DID? We KNOW THAT VITTER DID. He was caught by the cops in the act. He's still in office with no cries for his dismissal.
 
 
+17 # JCM 2011-06-19 14:16
I hope he runs again! A great progressive voice and defender of the middle class. I would vote for him.
 
 
-13 # mc 2011-06-19 14:36
More apologist CRAP! He didn't kill Santa Claus or eat infants
but he proved he's an obsessed moron who believed (like some
others) that there are no-consequences for his actions.
Answer: Why would anyone want someone who has real problems
making decisions for themselves, make very important and
sometimes critical decisions for anyone else?
Go Figure!
 
 
-25 # rom120 2011-06-19 14:47
Hertzberg's diatribe is sickening. If you or I, average Joe citizen, would do what the Weiner creep did, there would be serious repercussions from our wives, our friends would laugh about us and we would loose all credibility. Should our boss find out, goodbye promotion.
But,.....Weiner is a high ranking Jew, a fervent defender of Israel. This man can do no wrong, he "ONLY MADE A MISTAKE", a mistake, give me a break. Look up the definition of "mistake" and what he did certainly wasn't a mistake. Hertzberg is just sorry the Jewish lobby lost another one of it's big name supporters.
 
 
+7 # Carbonman1950 2011-06-19 17:52
Is your anti-Semitism truly relevant to this discussion.
I believe being driven or perhaps forced to resign from office by the leaders of his own political party rather undercuts your absurd assertion that people believe "This man can do no wrong".
 
 
+7 # Aaron Tovish 2011-06-19 15:12
There are 100,000 people in his district. Any number of them would make a good U.S. Representative. Politicians too quickly forget that they are replaceable. Next they start to think they are untouchable. I wish it was as easy to bring down financiers as it is to bring down politicians.
 
 
+2 # xmo2rep 2011-06-20 11:05
there are 650,000 people (soon to be 725,000) in each Congressional District.
 
 
-3 # lin96 2011-06-19 15:50
Due to the frequency of sexual scandals about the representatives in the house and the senators in the senate, I think it's time to create a law stating that anyone involved in any type of sexual scandal will immediately be terminated. We don't need the distraction when the main reason for being in Congress is to work for the good of the people and our country and not to engage in some kind of adolescent behavior that is no example for the younger people in this country. I'll be voting for more women than men in the Congress.
 
 
+4 # stonecutter 2011-06-19 16:43
There is no longer any semblance of a shared ethical baseline standard in our politics--anyth ing goes if you can get away with it, if you're not caught "with your pants down"--and even shared legal standards often turn into jello in the face of money, privilege and influence (i.e., one set of laws for the rich and powerful, one for the ordinary schmo).

It's apparent that Weiner not only acted stupidly and carelessly enough to get caught by the likes of Andrew Breibart, but he further compounded his politically self-destructiv e acts (I don't see them even remotely as "sins") by the inept way he handled his exposure in the media.

The Dem leadership in the House, and the president, threw him under the bus for one reason only: his pathetic private predicament was a homerun media distraction, taking the spotlight off Ryan's draconian budget and kill-Medicare proposals and putting it on the "immoral" behavior of a poster boy for liberal/progess ive policies.

Washington politics is ruthless, pitiless, driven by what political science euphemistically calls "situational ethics". It's about power: getting it and keeping it. If Weiner's scandal could harm the president's and House Dems' 2012 re-election campaigns simply by grabbing and holding the salacious spotlight, he had to be sacrificed...fa st. He was the extra guy in the lifeboat: he had to go.
 
 
-4 # lnason@umassd.edu 2011-06-19 16:52
Weiner's "sins" had nothing to do with his tacky sex inclinations.

His sin was lying and character assassination aimed at Breitbart, the media, and, more generally, his political opponents. For a week, he claimed the brouhaha was a scandal fabricated by Breitbart (one media outlet even accused Breitbart of doing the hacking!) and his political opponents to distract him from his progressive agenda.

I don't have any strong moral judgements to make concerning sleazy sexual proclivities (provided that they only involve consenting adults) but I have harsh moral judgements to make about liars.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+1 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:27
Hacking is exactly what breitbart did. How do you feel about Vitter?
 
 
-5 # genierae 2011-06-19 17:23
Sayings such as "boys will be boys" and "men are just like that" are self-fulfilling prophecies keeping men from awakening to their inner spiritual lives. And now they have Viagra to keep their focus on the sexual, how sad. Once men reach a certain age, they need to "put away childish things" and begin to explore more deeply their masculinity. By focusing only on sexual pleasure they are missing out on the most important things in life. Sexuality is an essential part of being human, but it is part of our physical nature, not of our spiritual essence, and should be a follower not a leader. There was no more masculine man than Jesus, yet he was led by his spirit and always in command of his body.
 
 
+10 # maddave 2011-06-19 18:49
Tony Weiner's sin was becoming the most articulate voice of us liberals and the Democratic Party in Congress.

Scratch that! He was the ONLY articulate voice in Congress. (Bernie Sanders is an Independent otherwise it would be a tie.)
 
 
+1 # webfoot doug 2011-06-19 18:54
CHARACTER COUNTS
Our country is in a crisis, desperate for thoughtful progressive leadership. However all too often the best we liberals and progressives can offer are immature egotists like Edwards and Weiner. And now some liberals, as Hertzberg, want to minimize Weiner's disasters.
Grow up, we are surrounded by right-wingers like Breitbart who are searching, "60 Minutes-like", for a "gotcha" moment to attack us--so "wise up", don't make it easy for them. We are in a battle for the soul of America with those fascists.

But Weiner a "liberal leader?" Ha ha
Hertzberg should have seen him on CSPAN when he joined with conservatives in Congress to lead the defunding of the United States Institute of Peace.
Weiner's argument was that USIP was redundant, as Peace was what the State Department was for!!!!!!!

Weiner a Progressive? No, Weiner's nothing more than a self-centered hot dog. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
 
 
-3 # Pickwicky 2011-06-21 09:58
Right Webfoot--I saw Weiner's vote to defund USIP as his one entry on the See-How-Thrifty -I-Am list. I have a hunch he would have used it in his run for Mayor of NYC. In short, I thought his vote was a ploy.
 
 
+5 # DEDSTROKE 2011-06-19 19:48
Wiener told an embarassed lie. Kid caught in the cookie jar. And the media went nuts. However, they media stand idly by and does nothing as every politician tells a huge venal lie: "I took the money but it didn influence my vote." Yeah, right and the check's in the mail. The sadness is that journalism is long since dead in this our ridiculous country.
 
 
+2 # DR. FRANK HOVELL 2011-06-19 22:11
Reply to "Byrolator" or whomever: maybe the word you used would serve better if you deleted the 4th letter, the letter "l". Or is that just too clinical, given the overall (or underwear) topic under discussion? Psychprof.
 
 
+3 # kitb 2011-06-19 23:30
Why should we give a hoot what someone does behind the closed doors of his home? Gay or straight, monogamous or not, kinky or banal. We elect politicians to do a certain job and if they're doing the job well, let them continue. Their personal lives are NONE OF OUR BUSINESS (short of felons or psychopaths). Their professional lives ARE. Period.
 
 
-1 # MichaelW 2011-06-20 05:21
In a country as supressed sexually as the USA, sexting is a logical outcome of the use of technology. And, if one doesn't expect that activity, one is living under a rock. That said, it doesn't make it any less culpable to do such an immature and senseless thing. And, lieing about it is only a compounding factor. It becomes even more hideous in an elected official. That's the error in judgement that makes the case. So, why don't we expect others, guilty of crimes and misdemeanors to be pushed out? Wiener got what he bargained for - doing something incredibly stupid, and lieing about it. But, Vintner and the rest? I guess being a good "Christian" makes all the difference. Once more hipocracy triumphs!
 
 
+2 # Enlightened 2011-06-20 11:12
I agree on both hands. It does seem petty since Member Weiner was not convicted and others serving have done the same, more or less and survived. On the other hand what are your standards? I don't feel comfortable with a guy who is contacting women of all ages and can't seem to separate his public service from his personal relationship. He did use his power of office to contact women, most of them unknowingly with words and pictures that we would deem inappropriate. To me that shows a lack of judgement to separate the two, public life and private gain. If he were trolling the streets as an anonymous citizens, keeping his relationships between two consenting adults looking for the same thing, it wouldn't bother me as much. If he met someone, developed some type of relationship, that probably wouldn't bother me as much. But the sneaking in sex language and pictures to people who in most cases were supporting him politically, bothers me. I am not the morals police. But if you sign up for public service, then you are liable for what you do in public. If you don't want the scrutiny and value your privacy, work in the PRIVATE SECTOR. Unlike some people, who got passes, step up, be a man and show that you do have some redeeming qualities and walk away.
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:22
Would it have mattered if Weiner-man's pictures had been privately sent to his wife?

I don't think so. Breibart would have still gotten away with breaking the law, hacking into his account and still would have said they were about something else. Who would the press believe? A criminal? Or a man who sent pictures of his willy?

This isn't about weiner-man's private behavior (which, for all we know, his wife was in on and got off on it). This is about whether or not weiner-man's weiner is newsworthy, and whether or not he should have been kicked out of office for it, which he was.
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-20 22:22
The irony here, is that if his first name had been RANDY, he couldn't have even been accused of lying.
 
 
+3 # rozgnatt 2011-06-21 02:47
Waiting to board a plane last week, I timed the report on Wiener's silliness on CNN: 20 minutes. They haven't spent that much time on one story in years. What is truly pathetic is the puritanical fascination this country has with SEX in any form - it's we who are sad -sad in being focused on a silly, non-criminal act when our corrupt government leads us into a fourth new war. By the way, the International War Crimes Tribunal still has an outstanding indictment against 17 of our best and finest (GWB2 is the first on the list) for crimes against humanity. Shouldn't we get outraged about the real and present threats to human survival?
 
 
+3 # Jacqueline Pence 2011-06-21 06:12
Bottom line - and this applies to EVERYONE, not just politicians - do not write anything in an email or a Twitter (or even say during phone calls, ALL of which the FBI and/or NSA is recording for possible future use) that you would not feel comfortable having posted on a heavily traveled freeway billboard. Nothing - NOTHING - is private anymore. The 1st Amendment is all but dead, at least for a LIVING HUMAN BEING (no worries if you're a corporation, though) and the 14th Amendment, too.
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-21 10:53
Don't forget the 4th Amendment as well.
 
 
+1 # Pickwicky 2011-06-21 10:15
Roz--our national detour from critical matters to Weiner's sexual pictures is the most important reason why our elected officals ought to behave with decorum. Like it or not, the House of Reps, the press, and people in general, were riveted to this scandal.

And, Roz--some of us do become outraged about "the real and present threats to human survival?" Too often, however, we are ignored.
 
 
+2 # patti meyers 2011-06-21 10:25
I would add one more word to the title of this article...."YET "... no telling how far he would have gone if he hadn't been "exposed."
 
 
+2 # billy bob 2011-06-21 10:52
Who knows what you or I might do in the future? Maybe we should ALL be exposed now for what we have the potential to become in the future. Pre-emptive incarceration would solve all of our problems. This is like the script to "Robocop" or something.
 
 
+3 # Rara Avis 2011-06-21 11:53
The Congressman's bad judgment in sending out inappropriate enternet material and lying about something because it embarrasses him makes him a member of the human race and not a god. So what? That old saying of that ancient Jewish Rabbi comes to mind: "let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

The real culpable party here is the media frenzy of 13-year-olds making jokes about male genatilia and seeing it as a horrible thing. I'd gladly become an Anthony Weiner if world hunger, wars, murder, sexual assault, and human greed and avarice would end. This was a distraction to permit worse things to take place behind the curtain of government and business.

As is pointed to, thus far the former congressman has not broken a single law and otherwise is a good person.

The most important thing for Anthony Weiner is to reconcile this with his wife and family and find a way back to some sort of public service or work that fulfills him.
 
 
+2 # Habib Khan 2011-06-23 09:40
I find it very sad to see the media and the number of people so interested in the character assasination of one human being.

It is only humans who make mistakes and he has admitted and apologized for the mistake. What more do we want?

Please live and let live.
 
 
+1 # Bill Bjornson 2011-06-24 01:48
This stuff should be named 'Loquacious'. There has not, to my handicapped attention span, been an ill peep out of Weiner's family, no bruises or wrecked anythings. That is hopeful, these days. Some times you just have to make yourself jump from the train, strongarm, trick, turn the DI voice loose, whatever, sometimes you have to jump when you find you are on a train to nowhere. Hard train to just step off of, requires finality. The people who know you will understand or they don't really know you. I think she understands her man and they will plan together what they want to do next. We only have one life, what worse way to waste it than Congress? And the exit? Oy vay! Leaving with the image of your junk burned into America's eyeballs by constant exposure. Are there awards for public performance art? The man is a master but, at the moment, may be mostly apalled. Age, my man, will put a soft lustre on these days because you will better, in your heart, you know you will. Hey, you're a lawyer. Get out here and defend this Mohamud kid the FBI is trying to lynch after using him. Redemption awaits you. In fact, seriously, call John Edwards. If you guys together had the nuts to take on hoover's curse, there'd be light all over this thing. And the other identical scenarios around the country. Just sayin'
 

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