Op Ed

Sorry, Anthony

Much virtual ink has been spilled this week over Anthony Weiner’s Twitter indiscretions. Pretty much every “weiner” joke in existence has been published in the past few days during “Weinergate.” (Damn you, Richard Nixon, that every political scandal should have “-gate” appended to it.) And yet for all the words written about the whole mess, from the calls for resignation to the heartfelt defense, one thing that has been conspicuously absent is compassion. Compassion for Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife who has had to sit by while the country discusses her husband’s sexting and online flirting. Compassion for the woman accidentally dragged into the middle. And yes, compassion for Anthony Weiner himself.

It’s no secret that I’m a big Weiner fan. But even if I weren’t, the whole thing turns my stomach. Not that a politician did something wrong, but the way the media and the public immediately leeches onto it, hungry for blood. You’d think that the morally righteous or faux-outraged folks calling for his resignation would be the ones I find the most appalling. But no; I expect that from them. What really upsets me the most are the blog posts and Facebook notes and all the rest defending him by claiming, “At least he’s not as bad as X who did Y,” digging up all manner of buried dirt we thought we had gotten past. None of this – absolutely none of this – is any of our business. Even the fake sympathy on behalf of Huma or the comments to the effect of, “Why would he cheat on HER?!” are not really our place to make. But we’ll continue to do it, over and over and over, no matter who it hurts.

That’s really at the heart of what bothers me about this story. In our lust for a juicy story and longing for schadenfreude, we forget that politicians are actual human beings with feelings underneath their public façade. If he doesn’t resign (which it looks to be the case), Anthony Weiner will have to face this story every single time someone mentions his name in the press for the rest of his career. No matter how much good he has tried to do or how much he will accomplish in the future, he will always be “Anthony Weiner, that guy from New York who posted a picture of his weiner on Twitter.” And that’s a shame. Sorry, Anthony, for being a part of the blogging culture that makes that happen.

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By BaseballChica03

Political hack. Word nerd. Stays crispy in milk. Oxford Comma user. Blogger since 2001.

5 replies on “Sorry, Anthony”

Somewhere back during some other political sex scandal someone made the comment that we don’t elect people to these office because they’re regular joes, we elect them because we hold them to a higher standard than we do the ‘regular joe’.

And honestly, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. These are people who are making decisions for this entire country. Decisions that could make or break a lot of us on an individual basis.

For the most part, I don’t care about his sexual proclivities. I care that he lied–to his wife, to his constituents who voted him into office, and to the nation at as a whole. Bold.face.unblinkingly.lied.

If he’s willing to lie about this, his fidelity to his wife that he ‘loves’ so very much, what stops him from lying about all of the things he is supposedly so supportive of? What stops him from spouting all of this pro-woman rhetoric and then going back on it? I mean, it’s not like his actions in this situation have been all that ‘pro-woman’.

If he would’ve fessed up at the first sign of trouble, I’d have a hell of a lot more respect for him, but as it stands I’m finding myself viewing him in the same light as I have all the other people who’ve had their dalliances and lied about it, they’re not really not people I’m going to have much faith or trust in.

Eh, sorry. He’ll get no apologies from LittleGirlBlue over here. And here’s why. He’s not a random guy with your average job who got caught up in our bloodsucking media culture–a rabid collection of vampires with laptops!
He’s a politician who was elected to serve his constituents. And he prided himself on being young and hip and media-savvy. He regularly used Twitter to post about his work.
And then he did something really, really, really dumb, and gross on Twitter, and the blogosphere and the media responded, as it does. He did this to himself. The Media did not do this to him. This point is very important.
This should not have surprised him in the least. All that surprises me is that it took this many years for his behavior in a very public space to become public.
I don’t care, so much, about his inappropriate behavior on a political level, because it wasn’t illegal. But I do care about him lying openly to those constituents, and the public, for a solid week, forcing us to continue this inane conversation about Weiner’s weiner on every possible forum. And rather than step down, he’s going to make taxpayers foot the bill for the ethics investigation Pelosi is promising to determine whether he used tax dollars to further his romantic interests.
Should a politician be felled by inappropriate tweets? Maybe not. Should I have to spend any of my tax dollars dealing with that situation should it arise? Absolutely not.
Everyone always blames the press when this kind of thing happens. Bloodsucking leeches out to take down hard-working politicians. As an ex-journo, I’ve heard it all–sometimes shouted in my face in most profane ways. We’re not really bad human beings, most of us. Journalists are doing their job by covering what’s happening and now my colleagues are required to cover this ad nauseum.
If Weiner had admitted to taking the pictures on day one, and stepped down, we could have all had a groan, or a sigh of disgust, or both and moved on before all the weiner jokes were done. And the story would’ve gone away and he’d probably be able to come back in a few years, run for mayor, whatever.
But he didn’t. He’s the guy who did it. He’s no fool, he’s been a pol for awhile now. He knows how the machine works because he’s used it to advance his own career. And now he’s wasting our time, money and brain cells because he turned it on himself. And for that, I think he owes us all an apology, and a promise to go away for good.

Thank you. I keep hearing about the conservatives waving the pitchforks while this gets left out of the conversation:
make taxpayers foot the bill for the ethics investigation Pelosi is promising to determine whether he used tax dollars to further his romantic interests.

I have no sympathy for him either. To those saying it isn’t any of our business it became my business when the story surrounded me on every blog, new site and television I came into contact with.

I don’t necessarily think that journalists are evil, nor are the people who chat about the stories in the same way by the water cooler or at the bus stop. But as someone who has been on the inside working for those politicians whose names end up in the news (for whatever reasons), my point was that I think a lot of times people forget that the “public figures” they’re talking about are actual people, too. You’d be surprised how feelings get hurt over the particular way things are phrased. Talking about an issue is one thing – did what he do was wrong, should he resign, etc. But I wrote this post in reaction to a particularly mean-spirited blog post I read that, had Weiner come across it, probably really would have stung him.

The facts and details of a “scandal” are one thing; outright nastiness is quite another. It’s the filtering aspect of the media that’s really what I was pointing to, more than journalists themselves. Some of the things I’ve heard and read about Anthony Weiner over the past week are things very few people would say about someone they knew, or knew of through acquaintences. But because their only exposure to him is through the impersonality of the media, it’s easier to de-humanize him. This isn’t something that’s unique to Weiner, or to politicians in general. We do it all the time to famous people we don’t know. My point was just that sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and think about how we’d feel if the words we’re speaking were said about us. It’s more about tone than anything else.

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