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.
40 thoughts on ““It’s A Cook Book!””
I have long been a proponent of second chances, that if someone truly apologizes, means it, and reforms they can get a nearly fresh start. However he used that up some time ago. There are no more chances.
You’ve set a standard that not even the Founding Fathers could meet. Remember that Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were there — two men who would not be deemed worthy of holding office in your eyes. I think there are degrees to everything Jack.
There’s a reason Ben didn’t run for office: he understood. And Tom WASN’T fit to hold office. Check his record as Governor of Virginia. He was a crook, a liar, a coward and a hypocrite—but a great political thinker and philosopher (as was Ben.)
These are great examples…for my case.
I was referencing your point about 1776. Weren’t you saying that our Founders would be ashamed? My response simply is — probably not.
They would unanimously pronounce the candidacy of Weiner as an insult to the qualities for national service virtually all of them championed at time time or another. I said that the legacy of 1776—a republic form of government—was disgraced by the miserable standard an Weiner represents. Do you doubt it?
I think Weiner is a miserable disgrace and I think he will drop out of the race. But, I don’t pretend that politicians (historically) have been ethical models. Whether offices have been gained through votes, bloodlines, or coups, I think most leaders are less ethical than the average citizen. You are urging them to be more ethical — and I think that is a lofty goal — but it will never happen. We have to throw out the assholes, child molesters, and cheats. But if you are going to include the occasional liar (especially lies about private affairs), there won’t be a single person left in Congress.
How is it that you exclude Weiner from being an “*sshole?” What exactly is your definition I one? A person who acts like Weiner but has different politics?
I didn’t exclude Weiner — he needs to go. But I don’t think EVERY politician who has ever cheated on his/her spouse needs to resign.
And how is it that you can downgrade Weiner to “occasional liar” when he clearly is a habitual one who will do and say anything to hold onto power, including cheating his supporters?
Don’t like Weiner since his predilections have overtaken the point of running for office.. So flush him and forget him.
We used to not know anything about the candidate, and if we had, would America have voted in Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, FDR and JFK? NO. All of these men had scandalous affairs before and during their presidency.. Sexting? Seriously?
The most effective movers in this country would not dare run for political office, and even some damn good politicians will not run for national office for the same reason… Too many shmos counting angels on pinheads..
Did you read the post? Come on, what is the conduct that is used throughout as “signature significance.” Hint: it has nothing to do with “affairs.”
JFK was a sex addict and a cur, and should NOT have been a leader, as any objective reading of his conduct and character would dictate. Gave a great speech though. About Jefferson, see above.
Lincoln had no transgressions with signature significance, nor did FDR. Bad history AND careless reading, with “everybody does it”, as usual.
There is strong circumstantial evidence that Lincoln had affairs with certain men. Maybe that’s what drove Mary crazy. 🙂
Everybody says that now about various famous men in the old timey days, (for various depressing reasons, and with varying degrees of “evidence”. There was a better understanding of the differences between love and sexuality back then, and guys could be affectionate friends. Good luck with that now. Everyone’ a frat boy.
Yup. To a large extent, homophobia and fear of being ostracized as a homosexual during a young male’s formative years has done potentially irreversible damage to the societally-needed strong male friendships from days of yore (strong friendships I submit helped to civilize our society).
I doubt it. President James Buchanan might have been our first gay President. Buchanan had a close and intimate relationship with William Rufus King (who became Vice President under Franklin Pierce). The two men lived together for 13 years from 1840 until King’s death in 1853.
Buchanan maybe, Lincoln, don’t be ridiculous. This was the gay advocate establishment’s equivilent of “Jesus was black.” There is no evidence whatsoever that Lincoln was gay, just the flowery prose used to same sex freinds in that era, and the common parctice of two men sharing a bed. There is similarly no evidence that Larry, Mo, and Shemp were gay.
I’ve read two bios of Buchanan, believe it or not. He was jilted at the last minute because his betrothed suddenly had a change of heart, and it has been speculated that she discovered his sexual proclivities. He never married, the only bachelol among our Prezzes, and his career showed a furious single-minded focus, as if he was trying to, you know, compensate for something missing—but so did some of our aggressively hetero POTUSes. All in all, the evidence is pretty slim. If he weren’t the worst President, or close to it, I suspect the gay pride gang would have adopted him.
Based on my life-long study of the nation’s leaders, Buchanan would still be my top candidate, based on insufficient data, as the WH’s gay occupant.
My next best candidate?
I’m not saying that Lincoln was gay, I said there is some weird circumstantial evidence. He willingly shared a bed with a man — even after he was married and after he was President and could sleep in his own bed.
If it’s true — and I could care less either way — he wouldn’t be fit to rule pursuant to the Marshall play book.
Because of the lie of course — not because of the sex.
You will search futilely to support that contention. Nowhere have a ever written that adultery or any other kind of consensual sexual activity is disqualifying per se. In office, in THE office, there are circumstances that elevate the misconduct.
And there was nothing weird about men sharing beds in the mid 1900s.
It’s curious that being a devout liberal seems to wash everything else away in the eyes of other liberals. It’s the arrogance. “Weiner’s right, so what difference does any of that other stuff make?” seems to be the bottom line here, and with the Clintons. It’s terrible and so myopic. But so intrenched on the left. It’s zealotry. The same thing that nearly killed the vegan kitten.
And the reason nobody listens to you is they know what you’re saying is right but they don’t want to hear it. Because it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is getting the illuminati into power and keeping them there. Silly Jack.
And furthermore, being upright and fit for leadership renders a person unfit for leadership. They’re squares. They’re not hip. Therefore, they are unfit because they’re not smart enough to be cool. It’s kind of like teenaged girls being attracted to the “bad” boys. They’re sexy and exciting. And unfortunately, these “girls” never get to the “be careful what you wish for” part.
There are times I think the appropriate response is: “Everything I needed to know about politics I learned in high school.” It seems to be the stage of life at which all politicians and political consultants ceased maturing.
And the electorate as well. Didn’t we all witness the cheerleader get elected to be president of the student body over the nerdy guy on the physics team?
In our case it turns out the cheerleader who was elected happened also to be a nerdy girl who was either #3 or #4 in our graduating class of 588.
Hear, hear, OB.
I mean, specifically, your comment at 11:39.
And, more specifically, your comment about arrogance at 11:18.
I think it depends which liberal you are talking to. I don’t support Weiner — and I don’t know anyone who does. I also think the San Diego mayor should resign along with our VA Governor.
Huma Abedin? Hillary Clinton? Paul Begala? Bill Clinton? Elliot Spitzer? The New York Democratic Party? Alec Baldwin? Everyone at MSNBC?
I don’t know about the deal in San Diego. But if there were any responsible adults in the California Democratic Party, wouldn’t that guy be gone by now?
I was referencing liberals on the street, not liberals in the public eye. (And Alec Baldwin doesn’t count either — he’s just a nut.) All pundits and politicians are guilty of getting their marching orders from the party and going on every network and repeating them. It’s one of the reasons I hate politics.
Well then why don’t liberals on the streets take on the ones in the public eye? And I’m not sure I agree with you. On every trip I take to the northeast, whenever conversation turns to politics, I might just as well be talking to a liberal in the public eye. They evidently are on the talking points distribution list. It’s down right weird.
Well, I’m a good example of this. I think Weiner is a lying, sexually off-balanced ass and has no business running for Mayor. Is that far enough removed from the talking points distribution list for you? Most of my liberal friends feel the same way.
See, Beth, I think you are hating the wrong thing. I don’t hate politics, but I do hate the depravity (the sinfulness) of the people who make politics so easy to hate. I look at hating politics as following a distraction from what really deserves the hatred.
And I have to be honest, and retract on something I know I said recently in another comment: I guess I really do hate some people, after all. Jack talks about signature significance. Similarly, to me, there are some depraved people who do evil things so “lovingly,” it is only honest for me to say I hate such people. So I have to be most careful about recognizing exactly whom I do hate, because if I am not careful enough, I can easily do things to them that I would agree are sufficient for me to deserve being hated. I am not striving merely to avoid being hated by others, but I am striving so that at least I would not hate myself for what I do or don’t do. Still, I do hate my sinfulness…
I don’t think I disagree with you here, and I constantly have to remind myself to be more careful when I write on this site. When I say “I hate politics,” it is shorthand for me saying, “I hate people who have been corrupted by the political process.” I think there are a lot of well meaning, honest people who get into politics but the process of getting elected changes them. They have to appeal to 50.1% of the electorate, right? That means having to make a lot of promises, meeting with lobbying groups, taking money from PACs, corporations, anyone with an agenda. I think most principled people get out before this changes them (or they never run at all), and the people that end of getting elected are: (1) outright scum bags; or (2) those who end up thinking there is nothing wrong with the occasional white lie, or legislation that benefits a particular special interest, etc. Some in the latter category get worse over time and eventually they no longer have a sense of any moral compass.
You and I agree on a lot about politics in general. Those last couple of points you made above are why I worry about my relative, now in his 2nd term as a mayor. Power does corrupt, such that more power tends to corrupt more. Tenure, be it of power or powerlessness, enables corruption too, as we see in many quicksands of poverty.
I know I’m a day behind on this, and I’m sorry. I’d like to blame someone else, but the real fault is that I watch a lot of TV and only check my e-mail in the AM. My bad.
Every body commenting so far has expressed a hatred or dislike of politics, but, not surprisingly, politicians. In my mind, it’s the system that is broken, and the system manages to corrupt the people involved, if they stay in it long enough. Consider three possibilities:
1) Term limits. You can hold an elected Federal office for a fixed amount of time, then you go back to being a practicing attorney. You MAY NOT run for any Federal elective office again.
2) Lobbying of any sort should be illegal. We elect these people to represent US, not GE or GMC. If they need information on a specific issue, they should go find it, not rely on someone to bring it to them, wrapped in a “significant” contribution to their campaign fund.
3) Speaking of a campaign fund, contributing to a political campaign should be illegal. Either run on what you have or the govt. gives you (everybody would get the same amount).
These three changes to our present system, I think, would go a long way towards slowing if not stopping the corruption of those who should be representing us.
I am undecided on term limits right now. The purist in me says that the voters will make term limits. The realist in me says that career politicians are too easily tied up in making sure their careers are set.
You’ll never get rid of lobbying. It will exist in one form or another. Even the major political parties are just complex, multi-topic versions of lobbies. You could only hope to dissipate the power of the lobbies by reinvigorating the civic values of the Founders: that is more local and state oriented governing, not wanting the national level of government to be the answer to EVERYTHING.
How will that happen? Modern culture (cultivated by the media) says everything has to be answered on the national level. Good luck fighting that.
I don’t think you can directly limit campaign funding either. There may be indirect methods of doing such. It costs a ton of money to even run for Representative. They represent so many people each, the position comes at a premium. Return the Senate back to representation of the separate States. The Presidency is a tougher nut to crack. Reducing his power is a mulitfaceted effort: one, the culture is content with the imperial presidency, two, the executive branch is too damned huge, so the President has more power than he was envisioned to have, three, the culture has to be convinced that our problems are not best solved on the national level and that the President is not just a big legislator.
Tex, I don’t disagree with you in terms of any of this ever happening, if for no other reason than that incumbents would have to approve it in order for it to come about, which you and I both know is not going to happen. I do contend, however, that it would solve a lot of our ethics problems on the hill, as the system as it exists right now creates career politicians who will do anything to keep their jobs.
Like you, I’m not sure what to do about the Presidency. Your three points are sound, but I have no idea how to address them.
To off-quote the character from that “Twilight Zone” episode, we’re on the menu, too! Whenever a system or perception exists that a public official can do what he likes and not be held accountable, then is the free republic tossed on the grill of decadency.