Monday, July 08, 2013

Let Me Count the Dopes Update

A couple of years back, I wrote up a bunch of politicians who'd been caught with their pants more or less down. Apparently, voters are more forgiving than you might think:

  • Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford just made it into the House of Representatives, representing South Carolina, after winning a special election.
  • Anthony "Tweeter" Weiner is running for Mayor of New York City.
  • Eliot Spitzer want to run for Comptroller of NY State.
We'll see what happens with Weiner and Spitzer, eh? But I am shaking my head. How do these guys have any credibility at all?


Aleksei said...


Honestly, whatever one's opinion of Anthony Weiner's sexting, I am far more disgusted by the hounding he went through.

Electronic media make it very easy to pursue sexual fantasies ranging from completely harmless role-playing with consenting adults to predation on children. The former is a purely personal matter, while the latter is a matter for severe law enforcement.

Weiner's transgressions fall far more to the first end of that spectrum. It is hard to argue that he did anything more than offend sensibilities and common sense.

In any case, it is up to voters, not the news media or fellow members of Congress, to decide whether a representative's transgressions warrant being turned out of office.

There is no need for anybody to pile on Weiner.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Weiner didn't break any laws and I am not claiming he did. But if you're a public figure, the terrible judgment you show in behavior like this makes it fodder for the news media as well as for the voters.

Unknown said...

Ever since the advent of Internet commerce, pornography -- use of the Internet for sexual gratification, real or virtual -- has has been, and continues to be, a huge business. Millions upon millions of people at some point do what Weiner did. I know that's a shocking revelation that will cause many Good People to clutch their pearls in fragile Victorian horror, but it's nonetheless true. It's also true that marital infidelity is incredibly common.

If any news media personality or any politician ever patronized or even visited a porno site on the Internet or had a sexually charged IM chat with someone who isn't their spouse, shouldn't that now be splashed all over the Internet so we can all read it -- not just the fact of its existence but all the gory details? After all, this is about character, judgment, veracity: these are Important Journalists and Politicians, and how can we trust them if they're not even faithful to their spouse? Isn't that the standard now -- the one they're gleefully propagating?

Yes, Anthony Weiner lied -- about something that is absolutely nobody's business but his and his wife's. If you're not his wife, you have absolutely no legitimate reason to want to know about -- let alone pass judgment on -- what he does in his private sexual life with other consenting adults. Particularly repellent is the pretense of speaking out on behalf of his wife, as though anyone knows what her perspectives on such matters are or what their relationship entails. The only reason to want to wallow in the details of Anthony Weiner's sex life is because of the voyeuristic titillation it provides: a deeply repressed culture celebrates when it finds cause to be able to talk about penises and naked pictures and oral sex while hiding behind some noble pretext.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I will give you all of that....and still say that when an elected official engages in this kind of risk-taking behavior (sexting with several women he's not married to), it's reasonable for that official's constituents to wonder about his judgment.

Immanuel Gilen said...

By that reasoning, was Bill Clinton unfit for office too, then? Sounds to me like his transgressions (including perjury) far exceed sending a few non-nude pics...If that's enough basis to disqualify someone from office permanently, then I think very few candidates will be left standing. Wiener's judgment errors pale in comparison to, say, John McCain in the Keating days or Ted Kennedy back on Chappaquiddick.

I don't want to sound like a moralist by invoking all of these other judgment errors - rather I'm saying that lumping in Weiner with these two other guys is simplistic. Even between Spitzer, who broke several laws, and Sanford, who's just an idiot, there is a huge chasm. Just because all three went down for a scandal involving sex in some way, putting them together to me sounds like any type of judgment error regarding sexual matters should be enough to get you booted from office, and that's a type of puritanism I don't want any part of.

And all of this from someone who, frankly, doesn't really care all that much for Mr Wiener.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Those are in fact very good points about the severity of the transgressions involved. Krugman has a good blog post today about Spitzer.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Here's Ta-Nehisi Coates on Anthony Weiner. I think he has it right.