“In every action ask thyself, How does this affect me? Shall I regret it?”
Good advice from Marcus Aurelius. Alas, Anthony Weiner is not up on his classic Romans. (Okay –that’s my one and only wise-ass remark referencing the Congressman’s name and current situation.)
I’ve waited a bit to weigh in on this. Perhaps because I knew my thoughts wouldn’t be much appreciated. Or because I wanted to see if some sense of humanity would enter the discussion.
The media glee that has attached itself to the fall of Mr. Weiner took me back many years, perhaps to the first time I ever wondered if anybody had a heart. It was when Richard Nixon resigned. I wasn’t nearly as interested in politics as I am today, but I knew the news. I was aware that Nixon had needlessly extended a needless war … that he had an infamous “enemies” list … that he had “masterminded” a ridiculous break-in at the Watergate Hotel … and that he lied about it. Most of all, I knew he was utterly charmless. He had to go.
Still, I felt something, as I read and read and read all the happy people cheering his departure. I felt more when he became ill and it looked kind of serious. That he might even die. I could not find a single person who would say, “I feel rather bad for him.”
The media happiness at his unhappiness and disgrace left me feeling hollow and stupid. Shouldn’t there be some trace of empathy, I asked? Apparently not. What was wrong with me that I even had a soupcon of sympathy? So said my friends.
Over the years I’ve seen it over and over again. In politics, or in show biz. The savage joy we revel in when the high and mighty fall off those high places. We all know the names — Kennedy and Clinton and Hart and Tiger. On and on. Even a poor girl like Britney. What fun to mock her as she shaved her head and went mad.
But there is something else, too. Panic. The panic of lying, being caught in a lie and not being strong enough to admit it, and move on. I’ve been there. I know that feeling. Nothing is worse. You’ve done wrong, you know it. Maybe in your crazy head you thought you’d get away with it. But now it has come to bite you in the ass. Be a man and admit it? No, no, no. Lie and hope for the best. As if a lie could ever be “the best” of any situation. It never is. You are always caught. And it is so much worse in every way.
So maybe it is because in my life I’ve been a panicked liar at times — and hurt the one I love the most — that I can say I hope Anthony Weiner sticks to his guns and stays on. Let his constituents — who appear to like him very much — vote him out when the time comes, if that’s what they end up wanting. Let his pregnant wife deal with her sense of betrayal on her own terms — not yours! (Are you his wife? Did you receive his naughty pictures? I didn’t think so.)
I’m not perfect and neither are you and certainly the people calling for him to quit are not perfect. By any means.
I wondered, back in the day, as Nixon fell from the highest position in the world, what would it take to satisfy those who hated him, those who were literally cheering? I felt it could only be death. He’d have to kill himself. Then, there would be the hypocrisy of “regret.”
I felt that about Clinton and Kennedy and Tiger. And I feel it about Mr. Weiner. Every word uttered and written is splotched with blood waiting to be spilled.
Don’t we have better avenues for outrage? He showed absurdly poor judgment and displayed his penis on the Internet. (If he does quit politics, he has other options, career-wise.)
I’m considerably more upset that American soldiers continue to die in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that the annual cost of those wars is $1.29 trillion.
Let’s leave Mr. Weiner’s penis to heaven. And his wife to her own decisions.