Now that Weiner has resigned and the various weiner jokes have died down (too bad - they made me giggle like the 12-year-old school girl I am), it's time for me to examine this whole situation with a little perspective.
Americans are so strange when it comes to what we demand from our politicians. We want them to be "just like us". They can't be too intelligent, or too rich, or too successful, or too well-educated. They have to be as normal as possible.
Yet when it comes to the moral character of our politicians, we demand so much more from them. They must be above reproach in every way. They have to prove over and over again that they are practicing Christians* who go to church every Sunday without fail. They can't show any sign of weakness of character. They must be paragons of virtue to all of us.
I don't see why that is. Why do we care more about a politician's sex life, which is none of our business, but don't want him or her to be smart or well-educated or successful? What quality is truly more important to a leader? The ability to reason, to think important decisions through, to manage money well, to have a strong knowledge of world events, to know the customs and rules for other countries, and to be able to speak their languages - or the ability to keep it in your pants at all times?
I don't excuse Weiner's actions. It was sleazy. If it were my husband, he'd be sleeping in the doghouse and we don't have a dog. He's not my husband. What he did was make a bad decision, a bad judgment. It was just plain dumb. No one would argue that. What he did though, was not illegal. It was an act between consenting adults. No laws were broken. It was just a dumb act that one can hope his wife will divorce him over.
Why do we care so much about this? Why do the media and all of the talking heads want to make scandals like this into national issues? Why are politicians (and not all of them) resigning over sex issues, but not over things that truly matter to the American people? Is sending a bad sext worse than Watergate? Is it worse than selling arms for hostages and illegally diverting the funds to covert guerilla activities in another country? Is it worse than turning your back on intelligence that says a major terrorist attack on your country is imminent? Is it worse than doctoring intelligence in order to illegally go to war with another country so you can increase your "political capital"? America, where are your priorities?
The best argument against Weiner is that he showed bad judgment, and therefore will not make good decisions in office. I understand and even share that sentiment - at least part of the way. Do you believe the worst thing Nixon did was get caught? It's legitimate to question the ability of good decision making when someone blatantly does something dumb. Sure it is.
I still hate to see him go. Weiner was a pit bull (the good kind - without lipstick). He truly stood for the right issues. Perhaps that pot is calling the kettle black, but he was willing to go after the real questionable ethics violations in government. America needs more people in Congress like Weiner who will stand up for the right causes, who will make sure that president doesn't sell out to the right completely. I am afraid of who might replace him.
Speaking of ethics violations, was it a coincidence that this all came to light while Weiner was investigating Clarence Thomas? Maybe I'm just too much of a vast-right-wing-conspriacy theorist, but it always smelled fishy to me. It seems sex scandals often come up conveniently when a Democratic politician starts going after the wrong crooks. Eliot Spitzer anyone? (Yes, I know his activities were illegal and he needed to resign, and yet the man cleaned up Wall Street and since he has left office, Wall Street is as corrupt as ever.)
*You can be Jewish, too, but you can't be one of those liberal, non-practicing, Jewish-by-heritage, reform Jews. You have to be a regressive, temple-going Jew who buys into the party line. Conservative and Orthodox preferred, but don't wear a yarmulke because that's too initimdating and weird for normal Americans.