Well, that was fun wasn’t it? A Congress-critter got run out of DC because he got a little too frisky on Twitter. Who knew that virtual sex could get you into bigger trouble than the real thing? DC was shocked, shocked I tell you, that this kind of thing was going on. Obviously nothing was learned from the paging DC Pages scandal that sunk the career of Mark Foley. That Internet thingy can get you into so much trouble, especially them sociable networks.
In many ways the whole Weiner affair is a snapshot of our present obsessions. There are so many strands that bare investigation. There is the celebritization of our politics that began with JFK and just took off since Reagan. Modern politicians have to be media savvy and the best are rock stars in there own right. Barack Obama was definitely the rock star pol in the 2008 election, and Anthony Wiener also generated media heat every time he spoke.
While Politicians may love the free publicity that celebrity brings them, it seems they have not adjusted to the Paparazzi downside. They forget that being a media star means you live in a fish bowl. It means you have no secrets.
Weiner’s predilections set him up for a fall, there is no way he would have not been found out. Once found out, he would become a victim of the hyper-partisan politics that infest our nation. We have become a nation of two distinct teams: the Reds and the Blues. In many ways it is eerily the same as ancient Byzantium, and the chariot races of the 4th century. Back then it White and Red, with occasional rioting in the streets. Today the loyalties are just as fierce, but with less rioting. It was disconcerting to see how quickly the Weiner affair broke out into a Red-Blue food fight.
The Red Team smelled blood in the water and kept plugging away. They were helped by yet another obsession of our time, the desire for instant fame, or at least notoriety. It was amazing to see the number of women more than willing to admit they had scored a IM photo of the good Congressman’s junk. By the end of the fiasco it felt that the number of women involved could have populated a small town.
Wanting to change the discussion, and more than willing to cut the limb that Wiener had climbed out, the Democratic Leadership spared no time in condemning Wiener and demanding his head. And that is yet another thread that bears looking at: the cowardice of our political class, especially those who claim to be Democrats. The Democrats cower before the Republican Party and their demands. The Republicans cower before the far-right Wing-Nuts of the TEA Party. No one wants to fight the crazy. Both parties are knee-deep in corruption, bought and paid for by big business. It is a long, long, long way from “Profiles in Courage.”
Is it any wonder that the general public is turned off by politics? Even if you look at the supposed “issues” that tighty-whitey-gate brought up, we can not even be serious about that. The Republicans much rather get their undeserved Puritanism on than deal with substantive issues, and the Democrats are basically whining about how unfair this was. Two major issues got lost in all the posturing.
First, the actual Twittering was not as “harmless” as lefties would like to claim. There is the issue that Weiner was trying to push his junk on women who had no interest in it. There is a name for this, for unwanted sexual advances, for making every discussion toward the opposite (or same) sex about purulent matters: its called sexual harassment. There is a very good chance, if the allegations are true, that Weiner did sexually harass quite a few female twitters. How, in Weiner’s mind, “I love your politics,” became “I want to see pictures of your junk,” is a mystery that may never be solved. That Weiner may have been engaging in multiple instances of sexual harassment kills the arguments that this was harmless and nobodies business. It is our business when a public official sexually harasses multiple citizens over a any amount of time.
Second there was the attempt by Weiner to encourage several witnesses to withhold evidence. This again proves the Nixonian meme that is never the crime that gets you, but the cover up. Whatever one thinks of the sexual harassment angle, it is next to impossible to ignore the charge of Obstruction of Justice as it applies to Weiner.
As much as Progressives want to defend Anthony Weiner because of his outspoken support for left-of-center ideas, in the end he became too much of an issue to talk about the issues. In a culture that has great difficulty doing any kind of nuance at all, how does one separate the issues of Weiner’s self-indulgent narcissism from the issues of political importance? As supposed members of the reality based community, Progressives have avoided the ugly reality of Weiner’s obsessions. Weiner was taking some big, foolish, dumb, risks with his sextexting and he was most likely taking other big, foolish, dumb, risks in other portions of his personal and political life. As much as it hurts to say this, Weiner had a date with a brick wall at high speed, and there is not much that could have changed that destiny.
Whine if you must about Weiner being tossed under the bus, he made the job of the dithering Democratic leadership all too easy. Craven cowardice and self-loathing do seem to be the default among the Donkey set. Any person who breaks that mould becomes an almost instant hero for Progressives. But as a recovering Edwards supporter I can tell you that you have to choose your heros wisely. Knights in shining armor never show up for election cycles.
If Edwards was not enough of an object lesson, the election of Barack Obama should have drilled the lesson home; hero-worship is a bad way to choose a leader. This supposed knight in shining armor, Obama, turned out to be riding a flea-bitten creature rescued at the last minute from the knackers. His armor turned out to be nothing more than a collection of rusted-out beer cans held together with bailing wire and bubble gum. He was elected as a transitional leader, the new Aaron who would lead us out of the desert, and to the promised land. What he turned out to be was a Rockefeller Republican with the soul of a CPA. Instead of transition, we got transaction. Instead of bold leadership, we got an empty suite that had an even emptier head attached to it. Instead of a hero, we got a zero.
And since we are speaking of zeros we can come back to Anthony Weiner; now an ex-congressman. I will miss the bold politician that was willing to tweak the nose of the DC establishment. I will not miss the self-absorbed, self-destructive man who tweeting his junk to anyone remotely interested in seeing it ( and to a few people who claim they were not interested in seeing it.) We do need Progressive leaders, and the first qualification has to be a modicum of self-control. There is a difference between being bold and being a bozo. Anthony Weiner crossed that line on a rocket sled. Is it any wonder that he crashed and burned?