I try, I really do, to keep this blog family-friendly, especially since my own children blog here. But now the time has come to discuss Anthony Weiner and John Edwards.
From what I can tell, both of these men seem to think that their private parts are something that deserve a larger audience than the women they promised to love, honor and cherish. And now they have both run their careers into the ground for this reason.
It didn't used to be this way, of course. Time was that it was a 50/50 proposition whether or not a Democratic politician could exercise his droit de seigneur without worrying too much about the implications. While they both had some uncomfortable moments along the way, Ted Kennedy got by with it and so did Bill Clinton. As those of you who are old enough to remember the 1970s might recall, Wilbur Mills and Wayne Hays did not.
The difference, I think, in the disparate treatment is that both Kennedy and Clinton were (a) considered more important and (b) weren't wrinkled old dudes at the time their indiscretions came to light. And that's what makes the recent travails of Weiner and Edwards more interesting. Both were, in their own ways, people who generated a lot of goodwill in liberal circles because both were willing to attack Republicans in moralistic terms. Edwards became famous for his "Two Americas" trope in which he came on like a postmodern William Jennings Bryan, bewailing the greed and hubris of those nasty Republicans who were keeping people down.
Weiner, for his part, has always been a bit of a cult hero on the Left because he has been a go-to guy for all-purpose denunciations of all things Republican, conservative or otherwise. He came across on television as a less-oily version of his patron Charles Schumer, more bombastic and somehow more pure because of the intensity of his denunciations.
There's no need to rehearse what Edwards and Weiner did because, frankly, it's not especially interesting. What is interesting is that they aren't getting by with it. There's a larger story here. Something has changed. More to come.