Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is embroiled in a strange and distasteful controversy arising from the receipt by a young woman of a tweet from Weiner’s Twitter account including a photograph of a man’s provocatively bulging underwear–with both the garment and the bulge-producing contents allegedly belonging to the Representative. Such situations require the media, the public, political allies and foes alike to set their ethics alarms to “Fairness,” because being unfair is so easy and seductive. If your ethics alarms are properly calibrated, here is what should feel fair and unfair to Congressman Weiner.
Unfair: Assuming he sent the photo. He is a Congressman, an elected representative of the nation’s legislature. Just because other Congressmen (now ex-Congressmen) have, within memory, sent shirtless photos of themselves over the internet to troll for sex and giddily described having “tickle fights” with staff members does not have any probative value regarding what Rep. is or is not capable of doing. He claims his account was hacked as a prank. He deserves the benefit of the doubt until there are legitimate reasons to question his credibility on this issue. Even then, I think we owe it to him and our faith in democracy to begin with the assumption that a member of the U.S. House of Representatives couldn’t possibly be so crude, irresponsible and stupid as to send a photo of his crotch to a young woman.
Fair: Wanting to know the truth. I am constantly stunned that every time something like this involves a Democrat, the Clinton Enablers Association reappears and argues that it shouldn’t be a news story, that what matters is how effective a leader is at crunching budget numbers and devising legislation and bashing Republicans, not who he sends photographs of his groin to. Unbelievable. This is the flattest of learning curves. IF Rep. Weiner engages in such cretinous and crude conduct, he is a fool and a disgrace to his high office. His judgment and trustworthiness are suspect, and he degrades the United States Government as well as breaches his duty, as a national leader, to uphold and symbolize the highest levels of conduct, professionalism and dignity. …and it matters not one smidgen whether the culprit is a donkey or an elephant. Is that really so hard to comprehend?
Some Democrats and progressives think they can have the best of all worlds by maintaining that sex- related conduct is only an issue when it involves supposed hypocrisy. This means that only conservatives can be held accountable for such embarrassing episodes, while liberals are immune, maintaining as so many of them do the Sixties mantra that sexual fulfillment is personal, beyond criticism, and irrelevant to professional esteem, because as Woody Allen so often remarks to his de facto adopted daughter that he seduced and married while she was still a teenager in betrayal of her mother and his common law wife, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Ah, yes…Woody is true to his ideals, Bill Clinton is Democratic rock star and Eliot Spitzer has a TV show, but John Ensign and Larry Craig are scum. Sure. Nice try, Move-On.
Unfair: Making any more wiener jokes. The Congressman’s name should not dictate the significance of the news story. It’s cheap, and the jokes stopped being funny outside of junior high school a week ago. All right….yesterday’s headline, “Congressman Calls For Weiner Probe” made me laugh out loud. But let’s cut it out.
Fair: Wondering about Rep. Weiner’s statements and conduct in response to this episode. Why can’t he simply deny unequivocally that the photo is of him? Apparently the reason is that he doesn’t want to be caught in a lie if it is his, uh, underpants and stuff. Wait: why is a Congressman taking photographs of his own groin? Has anyone taken photographs of your crotch lately, and if so, why, in God’s name? If it’s his crotch on display, how did the hacker get it?What kind of Congressmen are we electing these days?
So now we know that Rep. Weiner acknowledges that there are photographs of his aroused underwear contents in the possession of someone. That’s relevant information, I think, in assessing his judgment and trustworthiness. Given a choice between equally qualified candidates, I’m voting for the one who doesn’t allow people to take pictures of his erections. Call me picky.
In a similar vein, why hasn’t Weiner made a formal complaint to the law enforcement officials? If someone was embarrassing me by using my social networks to send strangers my superb collection of bulging jockey shorts photos, I’d like to stop him…wouldn’t you? I’d file a complaint…unless I was afraid of what the investigation would uncover, so to speak. That’s just me. Still, it is fair to be puzzled by the Congressman’s handling of his dilemma so far.