I disagree with Amanda that Weiner’s online sexual habits are irrelevant to his role as a congressman or liberal bulldog. As I’ve already argued, I find it alarmingly unprofessional that Weiner pursued these activities from his Congressional office in the middle of the day, with his staff just outside the door. (As an employee, I certainly would feel uncomfortable if I guessed my boss was spending his workday in this way.)
And though I feel sorry for Weiner’s wife, whom he lied to about this contretemps (and who, it now emerges, is pregnant), my annoyance with him has little to do with outrage over his violation of the sanctity of marriage. (That’s their business.) Rather, as someone who feels passionately about some of the issues Weiner has championed, including universal healthcare, I’m angry that he would risk his important role in the public debate by giving strangers access to such embarrassing photographs He must have—should have!—known there was a chance the pictures could leak, putting his career at risk.
Having seen an iPhone photo of a photo of Weiner’s naked penis—yes, I admit, I clicked through—I might be kind of distracted next time I see him on TV criticizing Republicans. It curves slightly to the right; now I know, and I just can’t erase my brain.
This entire thing is so demeaning and such a distraction from the issues. Most frustratingly, it could have been avoided if Weiner had just not publicly tweeted a photograph of his crotch. I don’t think Weiner is as innocent in this scenario as the mugging victim to which Amanda compares him. A person can’t reasonably be expected to never walk around late at night; an elected official can reasonably be expected to be careful with photographs of his genitals.
I fear we’re over thinking things if we’re too quick to paint Weiner as a victim here, no matter how much we hate Breitbart and his role in all this. That said, I believe it should be up to the voters in Weiner’s district to decide whether or not he deserves another chance to represent their interests. There surely are second, third and fourth acts in American life, and I certainly hope that Anthony Weiner’s future is a lot brighter than this last week has been for him.