Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Working Blue

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.


Brad Carlson said...

You know Rep. Weiner has crapped the bed when:

a) Nancy Pelosi launches an ethics investigation.

b) Ed Schultz calls for Weiner's resignation.

c)He gets no support from the NY Times editorial board.

Night Writer said...

Yesterday a guy I know said on FB that when the Dem's get caught it's at least for normal sexual peccadillos while the Republicans are looking for gay sex in public restrooms (of course, being a Dem, he didn't have to add "not that there's anything wrong with that.")

My response: Yep, it's normal to have million dollar slush funds to hide/pay-off mistresses (Edwards, J. Jackson) and have sexting relationships with half a dozen women. I mean, everybody's doing it!

Anonymous said...

Prying eyes, Mr. D. In the good ol' days you could just swish your foot over a skosh into the next stall if you wanted something that feels so great anything better God kept for himself. Now, with all this meddling technology following you around like a hungry cat, you can't even sext that slim waisted new paige with the adorable Van Dyke bringing me my latte and a impish smile whenever I want without some MIT reject journalist hacking my whatchamacallit and wrecking my cushy Republican congressional seat! Or that oh-so-not discrete "professional service" that I was assured by the D.C. Madam was untraceable (lucky me, the people of the fine state of Louisiana have a memory long as Mardi Gras and the moral compass of a French banker). Yup, Mr. D, you know the play even before it's called in the huddle: Weiner and Edwards are equal offenders in the Republican playbook. Get out there and bang that drum! Form a seam here, and a seam here, and run to daylight!

Gino said...

i've heard a punidt explain that wiener wasnt getting the back up of his congressional friends because he basically doesnt have very many: they dont like him, he's annoying, and he's a camera chaser.

Night Writer said...

Ah, the always reliable tu quoque argument from the always reliably anonymous Rich. (Well, I can't say with any certitude that it's Rich).

Nope, there's no difference in the moral failings of either party, other than one party's indecencies lead to falling on one's sword or, if too slow, being drummed out. The other party responds by holding a testimonial and a fund-raiser (that's the standard for NY congressmen anyway - we'll see if Weasel gets one).

I suppose it's the difference between high dudgeon and low expectations.

Night Writer said...

Heh. Camera-chaser. I guess we found out what he'd do if he ever caught one.

Mr. D said...


Naah, this individual isn't Rich. Rich doesn't feel the need to show off his book learnin' in such an ostentatious manner.

The reliance on tu quoque is similar, but that's pretty much axiomatic from our moral betters.

Gino, I suspect you're correct about how Weiner's colleagues feel about him personally, although I also suspect that, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, they find the spectacle useful. Better to talk about a congressman's, ahem, member than about the way people are getting screwed in other ways.

Anonymous said...

How does a guy with the last name of Weiner get caught up in a scandal for putting his Weiner on Display? I have to admit, I almost bought in to him being "framed" by others. I thought, there is no way he could be that stupid. Like others before him, yes indeed, he can be that stupid, arrogant or what ever term one wants to place on it. Mr D used the proper term in my estimation: The dude is a cad.

As we trolled out past self inflicted political suicides, I'm wonder why the name Elliot Spitzer didn't come up?

In the end, the old piece of advice that was once given to your truly still is some of the best advice for a male: If you don't unzip your pants, you won't have a problem. If you unzip your pants, things can happen where you will have no choice about the outcome. In the end, the only sure way to avoid trouble is to keep it in your pants.

Oscar Mayer

Anonymous said...

Night Writer,
can you name a time when I was truly anon? I am reliably "Anonymous" but never anonymous.


Anonymous said...

are you revising your assessment, from last week, that Weinergate is some kind of planned shuck and jive on the part of the Dems to draw attention away from the re-tanking economy (or something like that)? That really never made much sense to me.

Just wondering,

Mr. D said...

are you revising your assessment, from last week, that Weinergate is some kind of planned shuck and jive on the part of the Dems to draw attention away from the re-tanking economy (or something like that)? That really never made much sense to me.

No, but the key word in that passage is "planned." I never thought any of it was planned. Having said that, Weinerworld was plenty convenient for the Dems last week because it took people's eyes off the various balls in the air these days (economy, Middle East, etc.) Of course it wasn't "planned," but the timing gave a few other politicians a respite from scrutiny over those issues.

I still don't much care about Weiner's actions per se -- he's just a garden variety cad and the Beltway is full of 'em. What interests me are two things. One, that he's not getting by with it; and two, the way he's left so many of his defenders twisting in the wind.

Brad's comment at the beginning of this thread gets to the heart of what actually is interesting about the whole sordid matter.

Anonymous said...

I can't get my head around the whole thing. I am, for the most part, in agreement with you. Weiner is a garden variety d-bag, but his behavior is what I have come to expect from people who throw themselves into work that requires a high level of narcissism: Actors, politicians, pro athletes. What I am surprised by is the reaction from the public. This has to be the least sexual sex scandal I have ever seen. Contrary to some claims, this is not sexually predatory behavior. No actual acts were involved, no children were involved, no laws were broken, no one was physically harmed, all adults involved were consenting adults, etc. The whole thing is more than a little creepy, but it appears to be an activity that millions of adult Americans engage in regularly. Personally, I am not a fan of Social Media. I may appreciate its role in helping get Obama elected and furthering the cause of the Arab Spring and the Green Revolution in Iran, but I couldn't even tell you how to tweet something. And I view with suspicion anyone over the age of 25 with a FaceBook or Twitter account (hopefully, my wife won't read that). So where did all this moral outrage come from? I have seen so much worse behavior that never stirred this level of indignation. It's really hard to understand.

This, in no way, is meant to excuse his behavior and if he was my Congressman, he'd never get a vote from me again. He has displayed an appaling lack of judgement and integrity, but as is true in so many of these scandals, his attempted coverup has probably been worse than his original transgressions. Still, with the obvious exception of his wife and family, the amends he needs to make should be a public and immediate, and then he should see where the chips fall. If David Vitter can get re-elected, I think there is hope for just about anyone. (For the record, I felt the same way about the Congressman from Buffalo. And he obviously did even more damage to his party by so hastily resigning.)

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.


Night Writer said...

Right you are, Anonymous Rich. You're such a regular here, though, that when I see "Anonymous" at the top of the comment I figure it's you (that's the power of branding). I did start to have a little doubt as I typed my comment, but kept going so I could work in the "certitude" line.

As to why this self-pantsing became such headline news, there are likely a number of reasons. For one, despite each party's attempts to paint everything as black or white, this was one case where the delineation was clear to (almost) everyone. Playing to the gut reaction is always easier than playing to an intellectual one, while making it appear you're actually doing something (being outraged is mother's milk to a politician).

It's also amusing to see a grown man getting burned by a stunt that most 8th-graders by now have already learned to avoid.

There's also a certain satisfaction in seeing a petard-chucker get hoisted by his own.

Mr. D said...


I guess I'd make three points.

1) Weiner apparently did the same thing as Brett Favre. The difference is that Brett Favre can't raise your taxes or make other decisions that can directly affect your life.

2) I've been reading over and over that "sexting" is something that millions of Americans do. I'm not convinced of that.

3) Night Writer's point about petards is also correct. In his own way, Weiner was just as much of a phony moralist as Jimmy Swaggart -- he was just sanctimonious about different things.