In Which I Finally Weigh In On Weinergate

Last night Oscar took a poke at the Anthony Weiner saga, and I mostly agree with what the rat had to say. I haven’t done a lot on all this, simply because the reporting Ace Of Spades and Big Government and others have done has been outstanding enough that it’s been worthwhile to just link to them in the Low Popahirum section.

But now that this thing has played out over the better part of a week I think it’s safe to conclude a few things are true.

First, the picture in question is of Weiner’s junk. He all but admits it’s his junk. He says he can’t say with “certitude” that it’s his junk, which is New York Lawyer for “I don’t want to admit it, but yeah.” And once you recognize that obvious fact, you’ll see why Weiner won’t call for the FBI or Capitol Police to investigate the case. He can’t do that. Because if they do, the most likely result will be that the story about his Twitter account being hacked will be disproven in no time flat. And then everybody will know – rather than just suspect – he’s lying, and he’ll be in hot water for having made a false complaint to the authorities. That’s why he’s talking about hiring private security firms and babbling about altered photos and so forth.

No other explanation of the situation makes sense. It’s pretty clear this is what we’ve got on our hands.

Second, Weiner has a reputation in DC for being a creep of the first magnitude. The Washington Times’ Emily Miller, for example, has a pretty explosive report about a press gaggle around Weiner in which he rattled off a bunch of dick-jokes and double entendres that went over like lead balloons. A partial transcript…

Weiner: We don’t know where the photograph came from. We don’t know for sure what’s on it. We don’t know for sure if it was manipulated. If it was taken out of one place and dropped something else. And I’m going to let this firm get to the bottom of all that. Jon Stewart might have actually been right last night.

The comedian Jon Stewart and Rep. Weiner have been friends for 25 years and used to stay at the same beach house in Dewey Beach, DE.

Miller: Are there pictures out there of you have undressed? Do you have pictures that exist?

Weiner: You know this is part of the problem with the way in which this has progressed and one of the reasons that I was,  perhaps — you’ll forgive me — a little bit stiff yesterday…. [laughter as Weiner smirks at a male reporter]

Reporter: We’ve used the word firm, we’ve used the word…

Weiner: Can I ask, is there a weiner joke that hasn’t been used in this context?

Miller: You’re making them all, though…

Weiner: I’m making them all?

Miller: You’re making all those….

Weiner: I would refer you to any of the coverage of this case, the jokes kind of write themselves.

Mr. Weiner’s penis jokes didn’t stop there.

Miller: How did someone get a picture of you in your underwear, if that’s possible?

Weiner: We don’t know where this photo came from, if it’s been manipulated, which is a possibility. As Jon Stewart alluded to last night, there are reasons to believe it might have been. [Weiner smiled at a male reporter and laughed.]

On his Tuesday night show, Mr. Stewart made the joke that he remembered his friend as being less well-endowed. “In real life, my memory is this cat had a lot more Anthony and a lot less Weiner. This is not what I remember,” said the Comedy channel host.

Weiner spoke about being a private citizen and said the whole incident was about getting spam.

Weiner: We don’t know that it’s a police matter. I got spam yesterday….

Reporter: How can it not be?

Weiner: How can it not be? Very easily. Every day all of us get spam. Every day all of us have people responding to us, ‘“ can’t believe you’re sending me this.”

Reporter: You’re a Member of Congress

Weiner: I’m a Member of Congress. I’m also a citizen. There’s nothing official about someone sending… by the way….

Miller: You’re standing in the Speaker’s Lobby, having 40, 75 reporters around you. If this is an issue of the Capitol Police, if this is….

Weiner: Why?

Miller: Because you’re a Member of Congress standing in this Capitol…

Weiner: But a Member of Congress doesn’t mean when someone sends a piece of spam to my account, doesn’t make it a federal offense

Miller: But this whole issue could go away….

Weiner: I am trying to find out, and I think I have taken steps to do so. If you’ll forgive me, I know we’re now in the weeds of a particular issue. If you can take a step back– not literally– you can step as close as you like.

Let’s remember what happened here. A congressman named Weiner who has a rather edgy, perhaps aggressive Twitter feed. Where he was spending the whole day poking at Clarence Thomas, gets a Twitter picture of fill in the blank.

This was a prank, intended to derail me or distract me, whatever it is. It is not a federal case. Now maybe it will turn out — forgive me — that this is the point of al Qaeda’s sword [laughter] …

and that this is the effort, this is where it’s going to begin. And I’ve asked internet security to take a look at my private internet feed. my private twitter feed that has 45,000 followers, more than Michele Bachmann, I want to point that out, I finally passed her.

At the end of the media scrum, Mr. Weiner said loftily that that there were areas of the scandal which he would not discuss.  He said that “at some point I have to draw a line and I’m drawing that line now”, and then he went on CNN and Fox News.

And from some of the congressional staff folks I’ve talked to who’ve been exposed to the guy, this whole business is completely consistent with the type of guy he is. He’s been described to me as one of these guys who you just immediately get the impression has something wrong with him.

Third, and related to the second, Weiner’s shameless attention-whoring on TV is totally consistent with his desire to send pictures of his package to strangers. Watch the guy on TV. There’s practically no difference between how he acts on camera and his online expositions (on TV he shows his backside more than his front; I’ll stipulate that).

Don’t believe me? Here.

If that’s how you operate in public, it’s no shock that when you don’t think anybody’s looking you’d send out a picture of your joystick to a stranger.

Incidentally, Megyn Kelly is home with a new baby right now. Her backs-and-forths with Weiner are legendary, and here this guy is self-immolating before our eyes, Charlie Sheen-style, and she’s not in her noonday slot at Fox News to cover it? You’ve got to absolutely feel for her – it has to be just killing her to be on the sidelines now.

Fourth, let’s remember that the NY-26 race the Democrats have established as some sort of referendum on the Ryan plan came open because a Republican congressman sent a picture of his naked torso – not his private parts – to some woman not his wife over the internet. Of course, Chris Lee has some shame and he decided to beg out of public life as a result. Which is what disgraced Republican politicians – or at least a good portion of them – do.

Weiner isn’t going to resign. Charlie Rangel didn’t, Barney Frank hasn’t, Maxine Waters refuses to, Bill Clinton certainly didn’t. Democrats plow right through their scandals, whether sexual or otherwise.

And of course, this brings up the age-old issue. Why is it fatal for a Republican to have a sex scandal (or some other kind), and not so much for a Democrat?

The Left will quickly tell you the difference is “hypocrisy.” As though there is some particular difference between the two sides in which hypocrites abound on the Right but not on the Left.

This has always driven me nuts.

Just because you profess some standards of behavior, as Republican voters typically demand of their candidates, that you can’t always adhere to doesn’t invalidate those standards. We KNOW that what is called “family values” works better as a matter of general practice in ordering a successful society. This isn’t arguable – honesty, work ethic, marital fidelity, a two-parent family, the monogamous heterosexual lifestyle and so on – those things make for more successful living for most people than their alternatives. And conservatives generally ask – and not unreasonably – that candidates seeking to represent them embody those virtues we understand to be our societal best practices.

That doesn’t mean everybody has to be on board with every facet of what social conservatives promote. It means there is value in attempting to steer as many people as possible into as many of the commonly accepted virtues as possible. I favor using the culture to further that process rather than legislation, and that’s difficult to do considering the filth that Hollywood repeatedly showers on us. Regardless, those virtues constitute a standard of behavior which has intrinsic value. And those who seek to lead us can better do so when they’re capable of living that standard.

But if you’ve got high standards, guess what? They’re harder to meet. That means folks held up to them are going to fail, and sometimes spectacularly. This stuff isn’t easy.

And that means Republicans get annihilated by scandals – because Republican voters enforce standards and Republican politicians accept them. But Democrats generally don’t. Democrats get a kick out of calling Republicans hypocrites when they don’t meet standards that neither voters nor politicians on their own side of the aisle even pursue much of the time. Which is why so loathsome and corrupt an individual as Teddy Kennedy could die as “the lion of the Senate” or a Dollar Bill Jefferson would run for re-election amid certain indications of gross misconduct which ultimately landed him in prison while Chris Lee is gone for dabbling – albeit badly – in online dating or Larry Craig had to resign over reports of creepy, if not exactly explicit, conduct in a men’s bathroom.

I’m not attempting to excuse Republicans who fail in this regard. The Chris Lees, John Ensigns, Mark Sanfords and David Vitters of the world weren’t unfairly held up to scrutiny. To those whom much is given, much is expected and so on. Vitter chose to fight through his problems and he’s managed to largely get past them, while the others are finished politically.

What bothers me here is the total lack of shame. Maxine Waters had none when it was obvious she and her husband were padding their wallets with bank bailouts. Rangel had none when it was obvious he was cheating on his taxes. Frank had none amid multiple scandals involving sex and money. Ted Kennedy had none during his countless shameful displays. And so on. And this pattern has now brought us Weiner, whose complete lack of humility and humiliation might even dwarf the rest of the gang.

It seems as though what’s unsaid here by Weiner and those of his ilk is “well, at least I’m not a hypocrite.” But here’s a news flash – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a hypocrite. It matters that you’re a piece of crap.

When Lee was crafting a false identity as a lobbyist so as to chase women on Craigslist and cheat on his wife, it made no difference whether he told folks on the campaign trail that marital infidelity was a no-no. What mattered was that this was a congressman who was acting in a fashion thoroughly unbecoming of his office according to commonly accepted standards of behavior. Period. What he had to say about those standards was immaterial.

In Weiner’s case, we have conduct unbecoming of the office in his sending pictures of his johnson out over the internet. That’s bad enough; he’d rightly be the subject of ridicule if he’d confessed to grossly inappropriate behavior and apologized to his wife and his countrymen. A necessary show of contrition and some lasting political damage – that perhaps would ultimately make him ineligible to be New York’s next mayor as he clearly wants to be – would be the result.

But instead, he’s concocted a cockamamie story about how his account got hacked and then embarked on a string of public interviews in which his behavior has been bizarre and offensive in the extreme. This is the arrogance and lack of accountability which results from a Democrat political culture that makes a joke of public virtue and prides itself in hostility to bourgeois morality. Weiner acts as though he’s being put upon for enduring scrutiny over this strange saga; he will neither fess up or shut up as someone with any respect for how these things are expected to be handled would certainly do.

As such, I’m torn between finding this whole tawdry spectacle absolutely delicious – I’m with Oscar on all of his characterizations of Weiner as an obnoxious jerk whose downfall as a political figure of note is long overdue – and recognizing it as a new low in behavioral standards among our political class. The personal corruption this scandal is exposing needs to be addressed.

So what I would suggest is that someone should present a resolution in the House to censure Weiner for his behavior. I’d like to see that resolution contain a finding that his statements about his account being hacked are “not credible,” and I’d like to see it demand a much stronger commitment to respectable behavior in public and in social media among House members.

Weiner’s humiliation is nearly complete thanks to the media storm and public ridicule this has set off. But that’s not good enough. This kind of behavior casts disrepute on Congress, which like it or not is an institution which actually matters to this country. And part of the job John Boehner has as Speaker of the House in restoring the credibility of the body is coming down hard against conduct like this. It’s bad for Congress, and it’s bad for the country, when a holder of high federal office like this comports himself in such a way.

Time to put a stop to it. With vigor.



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