published Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Anthony Weiner’s lame contrition

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    A teary U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., addresses a news conference in New York, Monday, June 6, 2011. After days of denials, a choked-up New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner confessed Monday that he tweeted a bulging-underpants photo of himself to a young woman and admitted to "inappropriate" exchanges with six women before and after getting married. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Rep. Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman who had become one of the Democrats’ most nationally recognized and pugilistic defenders, finally admitted Monday — after two weeks of denial — that he had sent a picture of himself in his undershorts to a woman over Twitter. He also admitted flatly lying to the public about his Twitter account being hacked to dodge accountability. By the time his tearful, remorseful recounting of his inappropriate conduct and his apology for it ended, he had further admitted that he had been engaging in suggestive phone relationships — including sending photos of himself — with half a dozen women around the country over the past three years.

Unless Weiner knowingly sent physically explicit photos to a minor or is hiding further lies, his actions may not rise to a criminal level, nor will they necessarily force his resignation. But they raise serious questions about his ethics and judgment, and they have certainly damaged his political career and embarrassed his party.

He clearly will not be a welcome candidate in a future New York City mayoral race — a race to which he had apparently aspired and for which he had acquired a substantial following. New York political observers said he probably had fatally wounded his political future in the city’s mayoral arena.

Weiner said in his contrite remarks Monday that he took responsibility, though with an ironic caveat; “I don’t what I was thinking,” he said. Maybe not, but that’s no excuse, nor will it reverse the damage to his political and personal standing. The fact that he lied so long and had to be forced into an admission by steady leaks of embarrassing pictures undermines his contrition, as well.

Weiner did claim that he had not met or had a personal encounter with any of the women other than the phone exchanges. Still, the nature of his moral offense and his lying are bad enough to lead some to call for him to resign his congressional seat. That’s understandable. No one in his shoes who has earned the responsibility of a place in Congress can turn around and say they didn’t know what they were doing.

Weiner’s lame stupidity-defense doesn’t rate him much slack, but the issue of demanding his resignation is more problematic. There’s a long record of worse conduct in Congress by officials who have held onto their office, at least until the voters have had their say.

Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who admitted in 2007 to using a Washington, D.C., brothel for bizarre trysts with prostitutes — he liked to wear diapers — is still in office. So is Sen. John Ensign, the Nevada Republican who had an affair with the wife of his chief of staff, but he says he won’t run again. Former Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, remained in office until his term ended after an arrest in a men’s bathroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport for allegedly soliciting sex with a man in an adjacent stall.

A quick review of congressional scandals shows a dozen other congressmen and senators — nine Republicans and three Democrats — have either resigned immediately or quit after the next election following revelations in recent years of sexually related misconduct, mostly affairs or sexual harassment or attempts to lure staffers or other Capitol employees into relationships.

Weiner’s vague cyber misconduct over remote social media falls in a different category, at least as of Tuesday afternoon. It reflects reckless conduct, lack of judgment and juvenile narcissism and venality. That’s probably enough to sink him in the next election, but it may be a lesson of lifetime. His constituents will get to decide his fate.

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Livn4life said...

I get your point, since it's mostly Republicans, according to your account, Weiner is not so bad. Where are the reports about all the other Demos who lied, slandered and did a host of other things which were covered up overlooked or when pursued the race word was used? Oh, we don't need to remember them. No matter the party, the gender, or the race; anyone who is misleading about his or her life and skirts true responsibility should step down as a matter of decency. But then in national politics that word is now a dinosaur. What baffles me is that even in knowing the corrupt arena in Washington, we keep on electing dishonest people. That is a sad statement on who we are as a nation. Your pointing out "more" indiscretions from Republicans is just not helpful.

June 8, 2011 at 8:01 a.m.
Walden said...

What do Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, James McGreevey, Jesse Jackson, Gary Condit, Eliot Spitzer, Melvin Reynolds, Gerry Studds (!), David Giles, Abraham Hirschfeld, Allan Howe, and Joseph Waggoner all have in common?

All 13 of them are national-level Democrats involved in seedy sex scandals!

June 8, 2011 at 9:11 a.m.
brokentoe said...

Liv4, it's the Republicans who fooled their supporters by running on a false ticket as conservatives with morals and upstanding values. Pointing out all other parties, especially the Democratic party, but theirs were without any.

You have to admit though, Weiner has a nice bod he's been hiding under those oversized suits he wears.

June 8, 2011 at 10:46 a.m.
chet123 said...

Libertarian...so thats your defense...YOU ARE A ROCK HEAD!

June 8, 2011 at 10:56 a.m.
Walden said...

Oh, and how could I forget Eric Massa. The only reason the Dems went after his sexual misconduct was because he opposed Obamacare. Remember, this is the guy that referred to twinkle toes Rahm Emanuel as "the Devil's spawn." Ok, by my count, that now adds up to 18 D's and 9 R's. Lets get these things straight TFP.

June 8, 2011 at 1 p.m.
Walden said...

How could I forget about John "the Breck girl" Edwards.

19 D's

June 8, 2011 at 2:58 p.m.
LibDem said...

I'm sorry, People, but if lying about his sex life disqualifies a man from holding office, we have to look to another planet for leaders. We men have been lying about our sex lives since puberty was invented. It ain't gonna change. If it bothers you, then stop asking us about it.

June 8, 2011 at 3:01 p.m.
Walden said...

Gary Hart, D, Colorado.

June 8, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.
sangaree said...

LibDem I was about to say the very same thing. Men are more afraid of the wife slamming that frying pan upside their heads than anything else. That's why they lie.

I agree with toebroken/NICE BOD Weiner!

June 8, 2011 at 5:37 p.m.
Momus said...

L4F wrote in another forum: "I am so proud he has exposed Weiner, I wish he would release the more explicit picture." - You have to ask yourself, "Why?"

June 8, 2011 at 6:48 p.m.
zarvuu said...

Politicians are flawed just like you and me. Members of both parties have had lurid sex scandals. The list is too large list and the names on the list would come from both sides of the isle of both parties. That said, my prayers and thoughts are with this couple and hope that healing, forgivness and grace will prevail.

June 8, 2011 at 6:57 p.m.
librul said...

Two words: David Vitter. Poster boy for Republican hypocrisy.

June 9, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
Walden said...

Oh yeah, Al Gore too...

June 9, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.
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