SYNDICATED COLUMN: Being, Nothingness and Anthony Weiner

Should Anthony Weiner Resign?

Should Anthony Weiner resign?

Aside from the obvious pleasure that we derive from wallowing in salacious revelations about the rich and powerful, this week’s Weiner sexting controversy provides a window into American morals. Namely: what is wrong, what is right, and what if anything should be done about it?

Let’s look at the sin first.

Weiner sent smutty photos, some with smutty captions, to some of his followers on Twitter. As far as we know he never met any of these women in person, much less had sex with them.

After the Congressman and once-possible-future mayor of the City of New York realized that he had mistakenly sent one of his crotch shots to the wrong addressee, he got too clever by half. Trying to get ahead of the story before it broke organically, he called a press conference and claimed that Evil Right Wingers had hacked his Twitter account. This lame story quickly fell apart, and here we are, with The New York Times editorial board officially decrying Weiner’s “profoundly squalid and offensive pattern of conduct,” language one would have liked to have seen used to describe, for example, torture. Or the bailouts for millionaire bank executives. Or lying us into war in Afghanistan. And Iraq. And Libya.

No victim, no sin. Who’s Weiner’s victim?

Not, apparently, the women to whom he tweeted his…tweet. As far as we know, they were willing adult participants.

Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin is the sole candidate for Victim.

You have the right to feel outraged on her behalf. Me, I’m wary. No one but a husband and wife (or two husbands or wives) knows what goes on between them.

For all we know, Huma might be evil. She may have done far worse. Maybe she doesn’t mind. Or thinks a guy is entitled to fantasies that don’t involve his wife. If she sticks around we’ll at least know that her hubby’s “profoundly squalid and offensive pattern of conduct” wasn’t worth divorce.

The way I see it, this is the Weiners’ business.

To ask whether Weiner should resign, then, goes to another question. Did he betray his constituents–those in Queens and, more broadly as a nationally-known Congressman, the American people?

No doubt, Weiner lied to we, the people. It’s hard to imagine now, but that used to be an impeachable offense. Dig up Richard Nixon and ask him.

Nowadays, however, the public seems to have abandoned the expectation that politicians tell the truth. President Obama, for example, included a clear call for a public option in his healthcare reform proposal during the 2008 presidential campaign. It’s still on his website. And yet: “I didn’t campaign on the public option,” he said in late 2009.

Weiner lied. But it wasn’t about policy or something important like war. Remember Libya? We were going to “move quickly to save [civilian] lives.” It was going to be “this limited action, limited both in time and scope.” That was March. Now we’re trying to kill Kadaffi.

And, to Weiner’s credit, he didn’t lie long. A week. When he ‘fessed up, he did it like a man: took questions from the press, accepted responsibility, volunteered dirty deeds we didn’t know about.

It’s certainly not “we DID find the WMDs,” à la Bush-Cheney. Who, remember, did not resign.

I would love to live in a country in which lying to the public was cause for resignation. It sure would make for a lot of vacancies in government.

But we don’t–and it seems weird to hold a sexter to a higher standard than a warmongering mass murderer.

Ultimately the public’s case against Weiner comes down to the one Edward G. Robinson snaps at the dastardly insurance salesman played by Fred MacMurray in “Double Indemnity”: “I picked you for the job, not because I think you’re so darn smart, but because I thought maybe you were a shade less dumb than the rest of the outfit. I guess I was all wet. You’re not smarter, Walter. You’re just a little taller.”

Weiner doesn’t even get to be tall.

The Times questioned Weiner’s “judgment and character, considering that he was once considered one of the savvier members of the House. Had it not occurred to him, in an era of unending sexual scandal, that repeatedly sending these kinds of photographs to strangers would eventually catch up with him? And that, if it did, his attempt to exploit his political celebrity for online sexual gratification would be considered reprehensible?”

Should Weiner resign? Only if not being sufficiently cold, cynical and calculating is just cause.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is


14 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Being, Nothingness and Anthony Weiner

  1. It wasn’t just lying, but the pathetic lying. Also, I don’t agree that he ‘fessed like a man: those girly tears and choking are anything but manly. I agree with you that the sexting in itself is nobody’s business but the Weiner’s. But I have to say I love the sexual scandals for two good reasons: one, politicians are creeps and scoundrels, and when there’s a chance they should be made to suffer to pay for the grief they inclict on us mundanes. Second, it’s a rare chance to see the lamestream pretend it has a spine and actually stands up to the power. It’s theater, of course, but it’s entertaining. As for Weiner, I’d be moved if he tearfully apologized for giving his blessing to a foreign invasion that caused the death, mutilation and misery of tens of thousands,

    I compare Weiner’s fate to that of our own Antonio Palocci, who was forced this week to resign from the second administration in a row. The first time around he was involved in a scandal that had it all: cavorting with lobbyists with the usual assortment of booze and hookers and then trying to strong-arm the poor caretaker who was the main witness. No tearful public apologies to either the poor man, to the public or, more importantly, to the wife, cause we don’t swing that way in Latin America, you see. The guy is thoroughly despicable, but unlike Weiner, at least he never contributed to bombing and destroying foreign people’s homes.

    • True, he would have benefited from not crying, but I can understand the feeling of humiliation and shame. He seemed human.

  2. The reality is, this is a problem for the same reason it was a big deal that Spitzer was busted, he’s an asshole. Nobody inside or outside of his party like him. (Just his constituents whom we all know don’t matter.) He was constantly insulting everyone, and pushing buttons. If your going to attack others, this sort of thing is going to become a big deal, if he would have been a good little politician and excepted the kickbacks without pushing buttons he would have been good.

    • If other politicos like you, you are not serving your constituents. I like that Weiner is an asshole to those assholes.

  3. I’m impressed. No, not by Weiner’s pics…. I’m impressed by you take on this Ted. As a long time reader, I would have guessed that this incident would provide fodder for a titillating and cynical comic. Or that you would use this to make comments on the moral ambiguity (being nice there) of the typical American. Instead, you wrote this thoughtful piece. Of course, it would be better if Weiner had shown better judgment. But, after some reflection, I agree that having a representative who has these sort of troubles, (but, as far as we know, didn’t act out or abuse others) than a representative on the payroll of business who lies to our face (not even bothering to be subtle) and sends kids off to failed and wrongly motivated wars. Thanks for the touch of sanity that you offer.

  4. Ted, you should consider awarding “Obamabot” (or “Dembot”) awards to blogs/websites. I don’t even have the words for this garbage from “Talking Points Memo”. Maybe you do…

    “Constituents Seriously Out of Touch

    Anthony Weiner’s constituents fail to get the message from congressman’s colleagues and pundits. 56% of Weiner’s constituents want him to remain in office; 33% think he should resign.

    —Josh Marshall”

    • That is…priceless. Why should ordinary people care that the Dem establishment is turning on Weiner?

      The real reason Pelosi et al hate Pelosi is that he’s too liberal for them. That, and his belligerence places their timidity in sharp contrast.

  5. Someone just pointed out that that TPM post might have been tongue in cheek. It’s been a long day (and week). That site is still pretty stinky, anyway. 🙂 Keep up the good work, Ted. You help keep many of us sane.

  6. The most honest thing Weiner could have done is try to keep this out of the news cycle by hiding his personal life any way he could.
    Now we are all being subjected to the lie that the only thing to be concerned about in the world is him.
    That is a far more relevant lie than any he (or I, or Ghandi, or Jack Sprout) may have told.

  7. This whole thing is BS……I’ve observed a lot of shameless right wing fake outrage over this from the same people that don’t actually give a damn when their pet politicos actually commit crimes. But this has been said before and everyone knows it….why bother? I don’t know…

    • There are, and should be, different rules for liberal Democrats and family-values Republicans when it comes to sex scandals. When a gay-bashing GOP senator gets caught cruising for dick in a hotel restroom, he is displaying brazen hypocrisy and betraying constituents who agree with his right-wing politics. When a liberal, secular, progressive guy gets caught sexting, he is not betraying his constituents.

  8. When a liberal, secular, progressive guy gets caught sexting, he is not betraying his constituents.

    I’d agree with everything you said except one thing: secular doesn’t apply to people! Let’s quit this mainstream silliness for good. That guy is either atheistic, agnostic, indifferent to religion, lapsed or what-have-you. Strictly speaking, only clergy are not “secular.”