The issues at the core of the Anthony Weiner debacle—which is not the conduct of the ex-Congressman/absurd NYC mayoral candidate/sick puppy, but the fact that so many, like Dan Savage, Huma Abedin (Weiner’s wife, Hillary’s apprentice, carrier of the Clintonian ethisc virus), Andrew Sullivan, and apparently 16% of New York Democrats still argue that his conduct doesn’t disqualify him from elected office—-are ones which I am especially passionate about, because they are the very issues that launched this blog’s predecessor, the Ethics Scoreboard:
1. There is no division between private unethical conduct and public unethical conduct. It is a false construct designed to assist scoundrels in getting elected. Private conduct is as reliable an indicator of trustworthiness as other prior conduct.
2. Leaders in a democracy should be held to an exemplary level of conduct, not the average or common conduct of those they seek to lead.
3. Some instances of unethical conduct have “signature significance“for the individual involved, meaning that contrary to the common rationalization that “anyone can make a mistake,” there are some things that ethical people never would do even once, and thus the fact that an individual does do it is persuasive evidence that they are generally untrustworthy.
Thus I believe Weiner’s story is more important than the mere sordid political drama involved: if people pay attention, if people learn, if people can get by their partisan biases and convenient ethics misconceptions, maybe we can begin establishing a better, more sensible, beneficial standard for our elected leaders, who, perhaps you have noticed, are, as a group, an embarrassment to the legacy of July 4, 1776. I don’t have illusions that I have any influence, and it is unseemly to say “I told you so,” but sometimes I feel like one of the doomed heroes in science fiction/horror scenarios who end up screaming “They’re already here! You’re next!” or “It’s a cook book!” to unheeding crowds blithely proceeding to their own destruction.
Yesterday the news surfaced that should be the smoking gun on Anthony Weiner’s corrupt character that readers of this blog, at least, did not require to render a verdict—that Weiner’s conduct was not just an irrelevant personal quirk, that his initial lying about it was proof of a corrupt character, and that he is no more trustworthy than John Edwards, Lance Armstrong, Ryan Braun or anyone else who lies to the public to keep its trust. Maybe it will convince Dan, Huma, Andrew and the rest that Anthony Weiner is too corrupt—never mind sick—to lead. If it doesn’t, I think that is signature significance about them.
In 2011, then-Congressman Anthony Weiner hired a private investigation firm for a fee paid by nearly $45,000 in funds donated to his campaign to investigate how a hacker posted a photo of Weiner’s sex organs on his Twitter feed, and who that hacker was. Of course, Weiner knew that there was no hacker: he posted the shots himself, just as he has apparently posted many shots of his best feature to multiple strangers. But when his weird obsession came to light, Weiner lied to the media, denying it. Now we know he misused money donated in good faith to his campaign—perhaps by Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage, among others—to create the impression that he was innocent by sending investigators off on a wild goose chase. “See?” he was preparing to say. “My campaign is paying top investigators to get to the bottom of this and find out who the real guilty party is! You can check the bills!”
Even O.J. didn’t sink this low.
This was a cover-up like the kind of thing the clever (but not clever enough) murderers used on “Columbo” to try to throw Peter Falk off the track. It was a betrayal of campaign supporters, a possibly criminal misuse of their contributions, and the willingness to do anything, including constructing an elaborate public charade, to hold on to power—and it doesn’t surprise me in the least. I already knew what Weiner was capable of doing, and diagnosed his character deficits based on his original conduct and the dishonesty, arrogance and lack of integrity it demonstrated.
Presumably I don’t have to explain why a city like New York, or a town like Bumsrest, Montana, for that matter, doesn’t want to put someone in charge who will spend other people’s money to bolster his public lies. Do I—Dan, Andrew, Huma? Can we begin learning now? Can we stop making excuses and rationalizations for the worst leadership candidates, and start seeking the best? Finally?
It’s a cook book!
Facts: New York Daily News
Graphic: Gossip Rocks
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.