Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Anthony Weiner Need Not Resign

On Monday I posted about the Anthony Weiner scandal and got a great comment from Travis Mushett asking me about Weiner through the lens of FDR and what we now know about the 32nd president:
Just curious: how do you feel about FDR? He, too, "violated the trust of one of the people who he is supposed to love the most in this world." He also "straight up lied to his constituents and the nation" about his deteriorating medical condition by going to lengths to hide it. But you're going to run into few people outside of the Randian right who claim he wasn't a top-notch president who led the country through some damn dark times.

Now while I like Weiner, I wouldn't put him in FDR's league. However, I'm also inclined to say his personal failings didn't make him less of a politician. People fuck around. People lie about fucking around. Politicians lie to save their own asses. This isn't news. And I'll take a passionate, intelligent, experienced, eloquent, and significantly flawed Anthony Weiner over an inoffensive milquetoast any day. What he did was sleazy, but if I want moral guidance, I'll go to church. If I want a talented advocate for progressive policies, I'll go to Weiner.
In terms of FDR's health: there is no doubt that his capacity in his fourth term was severely diminished and that he should not have held the position he did during such an important time in history. However, because of his diminished mental capacity and the conspiratorial actions of his physicians, many believe that FDR did not even know of his declining health and that it was his physicians who put up a facade of healthiness, not FDR. While I am not saying what happened with FDR was right in any way, I think the comparison between FDR and Weiner here is a stretch.

In terms of FDR cheating: there is evidence that both parties in the FDR-Eleanor marriage were disloyal and they may have had an unspoken agreement about their union.

But pretending that they did not, then it certainly stains FDR as a person. Were I alive and voting back then, I would certainly think twice about voting for him because of it. However, there is no evidence (as far as I have seen) that when confronted by a media body that FDR denied his relationship with any number of women.

Now many have been calling for Weiner to resign, which I think is a little overkill. I had called for Spitzer's resignation, but that's because he broke the law. Weiner did not break any laws that we know of and really has no reason to resign unless he wants to (which I would suggest, but not say is necessary, based on the fact that he has a lot of personal matters to deal with).

What I am more upset about is the fact that, as Travis said, Weiner is a passionate, intelligent, experienced and eloquent guy who could do a lot for the progressive cause in this country, but he has severely hampered his effectiveness in Washington over bullshit like this. So yes, I would take a Weiner over a Gillibrand - I would much rather have someone who knows what they're doing and knows how to get their message across rather than someone who just follows the pack. However, I would much rather have someone with Weiner's capabilities who has the common sense to not do what Weiner did, or at least the common sense not to get caught, or at the very least someone with the common sense to handle it better than Weiner.

Because, again as Travis says, rampant infidelity pervades national politics. There's a reason that lobbying is an industry with a lot of attractive females. Think about this: Anthony Weiner was cybering and sexting while being an effective progressive three weeks ago. The difference between now and then is that he got caught, and then lied about it. If Weiner had faced the media and said, "Yeah, that's my dick. I'm not perfect and my wife and I have some work to do on our marriage. That's it," then I'd have a lot more respect for him. Instead, he comes up with this ridiculous hacking story, sticks with it way too long, and through the process lent credibility to Andrew Breitbart.

So I could forgive Weiner for thinking with the wrong head (though depending on who ran against him, I don't know if I would vote for him). What I can't forgive him for is the way he handled it. He'll be a less effective legislator because of it and he empowered Breitbart. So while I don't see the need for him to resign, I don't think he'll fully recover politically from this. If you subpoenaed the phone/Facebook/email records of every Congressman, I'd be willing to bet a good amount of them would find themselves in Weiner's position. So again, it's not that he was doing it (though it would certainly be nice if he didn't), it's how he handled it after being exposed.

Photo - Anthony Weiner (Politico)

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