After the latest tawdry tale from our nation's capital where yet another male politician has been caught indulging in an unwholesome pastime (cyber-flashing, in this case), some are wondering whether all too often men + power equals recklessness. Not many powerful women have been embroiled in sexual scandals or exercised such poor judgment in their personal behavior as the now very long list of offending male politicians from both parties. Women are not necessarily more sexually pure than men; they just know when not to throw caution to the wind. Also, they enter politics for different reasons than most men do.
Less interestingly, I got into a long discussion on Facebook based on two articles on Anthony Weiner, one by Juan Cole and the other by Glenn Greenwald. Since I haven't taken the permission to post the other comments, I am reproducing only my side here. It is easy to fathom the actual line of backing and forthing that went on. I am separating the comments by ***, each a response to something someone else said in the thread.
(cartoon by Jack Ohman)
Glenn Greenwald too has been viciously attacked by the American Israeli lobby for pointing out similar pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian stance of many of our liberal elected officials. Either they are afraid for their seat or they really do not be...lieve that Palestinians deserve fair treatment. Hendrick Hertzberg had an excellent column recently in The New Yorker about the sycophantic behavior of US polticians towards the self serving speech given by the blow-hard extraordinaire, Benjamin Netanyahu on the floor of the US Congress.
I think that is exactly what Juan Cole is pointing out - that the media have descended upon Weiner for his personal creepy behavior while they ignored his less than liberal attitude towards Israel-Palestine.
I like Gre...enwald. But I do not agree completely with him that personal lives of all public figures is not our business. It is not our business when Tiger Woods, Hugh Hefner or a Hollywood megastar is found out to be a profligate. But it is different if the Pope, a college professor or an elected official is clueless. An expectation of good judgment comes with these positions. It is not the lack of sexual morality per se that most people are put off by but the tendency at recklessness that they fear could well cloud a powerful man's (yes, they are mostly men) judgment if he is too much caught up in pursuing his libido. Sooner or later, it leads to illegal or criminal behavior (Edwards, Ensign). The police is now investigating if Weiner was communicating with under age girls. One has surfaced but nothing incriminating has been found there. Are there more school girls out there that Weiner was trying to impress with his manhood? It doesn't matter if his wife has no problems with his proclivities but the law says that an adult cannot have 'consensual' sex with an underage person, perhaps not even "virtual" sex. So far Weiner has only been found to be an icky creep but no more. If his constituents want him in congress, he should serve. But if his colleagues, particularly women, shun him now, he should be unsurprised.
I am also a bit wary of America being lectured to about its fuddy duddy moral values (read sexual morality) by the liberals. Why we should be like Europeans who just shrug their shoulders at the pecadilloes of their powerful politicians! Great. But that superior culture of "let boys be boys," also breeds dangerously narcissistic bullies like Berlusconi and Dominique Strauss Kahn.
There may well be a bright line between the two [actual physical assault vs tweeting pictures of one's private parts] as far as the law is concerned but it is a matter of gradation when it comes to sexual aggression whether a man forces himself physically on an unwilling woman or sends her pictures of his pri...vate parts whether or not she wanted to see them. They may have been his fans and perhaps there was some hero worship going on there. We don't know if the recipients of these "tweets" wanted to know Weiner so up close and personal. Yes, no actual assault took place but it shows a disgusting level of exhibitionism which can be a symptom of other deeper pathology. Just to put it in perspective, is it okay for a professor who is greatly admired by his students for his intellect, to send such photos to his female students at the university who are above the age of consent? I doubt it.
I just feel that elected officials should keep their pants zipped up until they serve out their terms in public office. They can pursue their lurid fantasies once they are done begging for votes, money and trying to convince their constituents that they will be their responsible spokesperson.
The media circus was created largely by Weiner himself when he screamed at journalists, blamed hackers and refused to fess up after being caught with his pants down. He could have made it go away in a jiffy by saying, "I did it; I am a jerk...; my wife and constituents will / not forgive me; please make your own enquiries if I broke any laws; I need some psychological counseling."
There is an inherent power differential between an adult politician and a twenty one year old college girl that is not so hard to recognize. No regulations need be in place to define that. Common decency should be enough. Anyway, as far as I am concerned, it is now between Weiner, his wife and the voters of his district.
If you want to protect your private life, don't unleash your private passions on the internet, for heaven's sake! Had it not been the loathsome Breitbart, this would have come out in some other way, perhaps from one of the women herself. No... one went with a hidden camera to snoop on Weiner. He was releasing these photos himself with alarming frequency into the unregulated World Wide Web. What was he thinking? He paved his own way to the slippery slope. I personally don't care what sexual fetishes he has. But can I at least question his wisdom?
I actually used to enjoy Weiner's rage filled theatrics on the floor of the congress against the hypocrisy of the Repugs from time to time. But he is no Howard Dean. Perhaps his lack of restraint in public should have clued us into the lack of the same quality in private.
To end, I should add that not all the mischiefs listed on the bipartisan congressional rogues' gallery are equal. I would like to split some hairs here about the "quality" of the indiscretions in favor of one of the offenders and he happens to be a Republican.
The Mark Sanford case was at least somewhat interesting although he seems to be just as self absorbed in private as he was pious in public. The pathetic "walking the Appalachian Trail" story may have been ridiculous but his obsession lacked the ick factor of most of the other predictable shenanigans mentioned here. I think like Prince Charles' adultery with an older woman much less attractive than his gorgeous young wife, this one too was a matter of heart and not just the body parts and power. The man probably did fall in love and therefore utterances like "found my soulmate" etc. were far more palatable (and believable) than the righteous finger wagging and tawdry lies of the rest.