National Commentary

Sex and Self Destruction

Oh how the mighty have fallen. It isn’t that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) did not have a road map to the demise of fellow lawmakers who foolishly cheated on their wives. Too many have taken chances before him and have paid the price.

It used to be corruption that took them out. Now it is sex that makes them forget the consequences.

Weiner used Twitter flagrantly to advertise his physique to women he did not personally know. He sent lewd photographs and personal messages of himself to women, sometimes very young. Didn’t Weiner, a seven-term congressman, know that there is no privacy in Washington? Didn’t he know that there is no secrecy when it comes to the social media? Didn’t he know that Congress is publicly online and there is nowhere to hide?

Was it his well-known ego and arrogance which deceived him, or his narcissism, or his libido? Did he really think he could survive such personal indignity? Well yes, apparently.

A tearful Weiner has wallowed in apologies to his bride, Huma Abedin, who is expecting their first child. He also apologized to his constituents, and he has publicly proclaimed his love for his wife, who has been silent. Abedin took off on an official foreign trip with her employer, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who could tell her a thing or two about philanderers.

Can you imagine the conversation between these two ladies who have suffered the humiliation in their marriages?

Clinton weathered the storm and stood by her man. But she also plunged herself into the more interesting job of seeking world peace. Huma did not pose, pro forma, for pictures, standing by her husband’s side in his moments of anguish and public apologies.

Weiner has found true the old Truman cliché – if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Most of his friends, including the top Democratic leaders, have called for his resignation. So far he has resisted. The leaders have disowned him, but their eyes are mostly on their re-election campaigns in 2012, as they believe the Republicans can make hay.

Weiner has a reputation of arrogance and a brash style which has left him with few defenders. GOP congressmen are enjoying his political demise, but they have little to brag about with their own personal scandals. Granted, fellow Democrats are running scared and showing no loyalty.

One GOP presidential candidacy contender, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, has also sullied his own reputation for rectitude. Gingrich dropped his first wife when she was recovering from cancer surgery. He informed his second wife he wanted a divorce after 12 years, telling her over the telephone while she was visiting her mother in Ohio. Gingrich is now married to his third wife, who was a secretary in his office and alleged girlfriend over several years.

It’s sordid and scandalous, as the story goes of a lot of politicians who succumb to temptation. It’s not new, but it is the way of all flesh.

Former President Bill Clinton, who survived an impeachment trial for lying under oath about his sexual encounters with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, ended up doing good work for humanity in the fight against AIDS and other global diseases. Others in the political world who tarnished their reputations include former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who fathered a boy with his live-in housekeeper.

There is no scarlet letter for men. Weiner has a long line before him of fallen public figures, from whom to learn and not emulate. Fellow New Yorker Eliot Spitzer is a prime example of having broken a code of honor in his official and marital life. He patronized a prostitution ring as governor of New York, though ironically he was a former prosecutor of corrupt people in his state. People who live in glass houses should know the pitfalls. Spitzer landed on his feet as a commentator on CNN, but who is listening to his wisdom?

Weiner has gone into treatment for his problems. For all that, I would give him a second chance. Nobody is perfect.