What's All This Then?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I didn’t think I would be among the countless bloggers, columnists and assorted pundits writing about Anthony Weiner but Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a few other Democratic politicians made me do it. Like the late great Flip Wilson’s devil.

My first reaction after Weiner admitted he’d been lying for a week was that I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher. I can’t exercise that rejection of course since I live in Illinois. But my concomitant reaction was that he’ll either get his comeuppance from the voters of his district of they’ll give him a chance to rehabilitate himself. More than that I had no interest in thinking, talking or writing about this sicko - and indeed that’s what he is. But then Nancy and Debbie and a whole bunch of others started piling on - and while that didn’t evoke any sympathy in me for Weiner, it made me a little disgusted at their combined behavior.

If you recall Weiner’s initial lying reaction when the first picture and first recipient surfaced - it wasn’t an outright lying denial. For whatever reason, he couldn’t bring himself to deny that the picture of his bulging underwear was real and that the bulge was his. He spoke gobbledygook about "photo shop" - sort of hinting that it was him but maybe an altered him. Maybe he knew he was going to be totally exposed - no pun intended - or, as some likely amateur psychiatrists in the world of punditry have suggested - he wanted to be caught - but just couldn’t bring himself to admit his problem right away, though he must have known the gig was up. And of course, like a long line of sinning politicians before him, he forgot that it’s always the cover up that sinks you - not that which you are clumsily attempting to cover up.

I don’t think I’m playing amateur psychiatrist when I call Weiner a "sicko." What he’s been doing is about as sick as it can be - not that far removed from idiots who expose themselves in front of girls and women on public thoroughfares. Some people have tried to say that his actions weren’t as bad as something like being caught with a hooker. He didn’t actually DO anything with these girls they say. I think that what Weiner has been doing is far worse than being caught with a hooker. You can sort of understand that kind of weakness in a man and almost forgive it. And if it happens to be a single adult male, there’s little to forgive in my opinion. He may be breaking the law but he’s not cheating on anyone or breaking any vows. But sending pictures of yourself grabbing your crotch to someone completely out of the blue isn’t a weakness - it’s just plain sick.

Now, having neatly condemned the New York Congressman, let me turn around and sort of defend him. It was to be expected that members of his own party and some members of the liberal press would express shock and dismay and disapproval at the revelations of his strange private life. After all, they’re Democrats. But then they began to pile on. As successive female recipients of his body parts reproductions were revealed - the cries for his head on a block grew exponentially. "Twitter" correspondence with a seventeen year old became "the last straw"- even though police - how did they get involved? - assured the world that nothing "inappropriate" had taken place in his exchanges with her. Even though it appears that she was a fan of his and he politely responded to what would have amounted to fan mail in another era - the fact that she was a kid was enough for Nancy, Debbie et al to insist that Weiner go away and stop embarrassing his Democratic colleagues who have hopes of re-taking the House next year and don’t want to have a "Weinergate" to muddy up their campaign strategy.

Sure it’s appropriate for the Democratic leadership to adopt a "high road" approach to this scandal - but there are a lot of Democratic and independent voters who are looking at this growing lynch mob and asking themselves what kind of party they’re being asked to support. The Republicans have been condemning of course - but for the most part, they’ve just watched from the sidelines as the Democrats make a bad situation worse - and now the President has chimed in saying he would have resigned if he found himself in the same kind of situation. I don’t recall any leading Republican members of Congress saying similar things about the behavior of David Bitter or John Ensign or Larry Craig. There was no day after day after day public outcry from Republican Congressional leaders that they commit political hari kiri after their embarrassing and in one case potentially illegal activities were revealed. There was always the underlying feeling that Republicans weren’t about to throw one of their own under the bus unless there was no other option available to them..

No question that a great many supporters of the Democratic party are disgusted with Weiner. He’s been a champion of the liberal wing with his emotional floor speeches and his frequent television appearances on left leaning programs. That adds to the disappointment. But, like me - an independent who more frequently votes Democratic than Republican - they are probably becoming just a little bit sorry for the Congressman because he has been so totally "dumped" by his own party and perhaps becoming more sympathetic to the idea of letting his constituents decide whether he should stay or go. If they want to re-elect a sicko - that’s their prerogative - and if you think that because he’s an obvious sicko there’s something wrong with that and something wrong with the voters in his district - just look at some members from both sides of the aisle that voters keep re-electing. I’m tempted to name a few names but I’ll leave it up to my sophisticated readers to pick their own favorites from this category. Non sophisticated readers who have landed here by accident - take a pass.

Weiner wants to take some time off to seek therapy for his addiction and if the Democratic leaders are as politically smart as they think they are, they should let him do it and stop their daily calls for his resignation. It’s making them look way too ready to throw one of their own under the bus even though there’s no indication that he has committed any ethical violation or done anything criminal. They should heed the ancient admonition that there are times when you should not only be careful what you wish for - but you should do your wishing less loudly and less frequently. It could wind making them look more like villains and Congressman Weiner more like a victim