I didn’t plan to. I don’t really care about it much. But I’ve reached the point where I’m prepared to attempt to say something interesting in a not-caring sort of way.
Some people are getting very angry indeed about Anthony Weiner’s penis, and what he’s been doing with it, which seems to amount to talking about it and showing it off to someone, in private conversations, in a way that eventually became publicly known. In almost all cases, their righteous anger seems rather misguided.
One person who may have a legitimate cause to be pissed off with him is his wife. It’s likely (though I don’t know if anyone’s actually checked) that, as part of their relationship agreement, Anthony Weiner had implicitly agreed with his wife that he wouldn’t exchange certain kinds of explicit messages and pictures with anyone who wasn’t her.
Even this is a bit of an assumption. It’s possible they had a marriage in which his flirting with other women was entirely permitted, and broke no faith between them, and they’ve simply decided that admitting to this much sexual liberation might actually damage his reputation more in the eyes of the American people (or the American media, or the opposing half of American politics) than letting everyone think he’s a philanderer.
This is purely speculation, and not worth dwelling on in the absence of any actual facts, but it’s relevant to the question of how harshly Anthony Weiner should be judged for what he did.
Either way, I don’t really see how it’s anyone else’s business. If you weren’t in any kind of relationship with the guy, why should you care?
The people outside his circle of personal relationships who come closest to having an opinion that matters are the ones he represents. New York’s 9th congressional district voted him in, and maybe some of them will choose not to do that any more because of his recent actions.
Of course they’re entitled to do that. Marital fidelity is important to a lot of people, and if you’re considering whether to vote for someone, it’s entirely valid for your decision to be swayed by ways in which they’ve behaved that run counter to your values. But having a sexually charged online relationship with someone while being married to someone else is a wholly apolitical act. It’s not obvious that it affects his ability to do his job in any way. And if the people of his district still think he’s the best man to represent them, even knowing what they now know, what could be wrong with letting them?
Hell, Newt Gingrich has had multiple affairs, is onto his third wife, and we’re still acting like he has a shot of getting a majority of the country to vote for him as President. His political career doesn’t seem to have been derailed at all by far more egregious wrongdoings.
One key difference, of course, is that we haven’t seen any provocative pictures that Gingrich took of himself. With Anthony Weiner, it’s all been brought out in the open. That’s what makes it so popular to see it as icky and comical. It’s rather depressing that the correct response, on learning that somebody sent another person candid photos with the intent to arouse, is apparently to find this both creepy and amusingly pathetic. Even if it was entirely solicited and successful in its intent, but only if the sender is male.
Relatively little of the corresponding judgment is actually to do with the infidelity (the only part of this whole business with the potential to hurt anyone). I suspect the response would have been largely the same if Anthony Weiner had been single.
Newt Gingrich actually had sex with people behind his wife’s back. More than once, with more than one wife. But that’s an abstract thing we find far less distasteful, because mercifully he never filmed it (or at least such a tape never made its way onto the news).
It’s been suggested that Anthony Weiner should either resign or hold some sort of special election, to measure the voters’ opinions in the direct wake of the scandal. The thing about that is, it’s actually quite a low bar to set. There’s a lot of lying and broken promises in politics, often on subjects far more politically relevant than who showed who their penis. These are things which could also give a congressman’s or senator’s constituents a genuine reason to reconsider whether they want him or her to represent them.
Until he turns up to a House meeting in a gimp mask, Anthony Weiner’s sexual proclivities really have no bearing on the political process. Saying he’s not fit to be a public representative because he’s capable of enjoying sexual acts in ways that aren’t socially approved of is on a par with saying that America could never have a female president because she might nuke Russia when it’s her time of the month.