Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Tuesday, June 07, 2011 :::

Being careful not to damn all on the left with the idiocy of a few, I'd like to add a point to a piece by Zombie [possibly not his real name] countering the argument that at least Weiner isn't a hypocrite because, while he did violate his marriage vows, he never involved himself in a moral crusade decrying married men sending nudie pics to young women, even if the young women were all of legal age to the best of the married men's knowledge. Or something like that.

Zombie makes the obvious point that "at least he didn't claim to have moral standards" isn't a great defense:

Consider these two statements from two different potential husbands:

“I know I promised to stop drinking forever, honey, but I fell off the wagon again; please forgive me, and I’ll really really try to stay sober from now on, but no guarantees.”


“I’m a tertiary alcoholic, a stone-cold drunk; always have been, always will be. You’re not likely to ever see me sober. Take it or leave it.”

If you had to choose, which would you marry?

Obviously, neither is very appealing, but the liberal stance is that the second potential husband is preferable, because at least he’s honest. The conservative stance is: The first potential husband is preferable, because at least he’s trying.

Beyond that, though, consider his influence on the kids (or, for a politician, on the culture). Would you prefer a husband who teaches his sons that spending life drunk sending nudie pictures to young women who are probably of legal age is a great way to live, or one who teaches that such a life, for all its superficial and short-term appeal, is ultimately destructive and that such urges are best suppressed?

I don't quite want to give Weiner kudos for his week of lies and slander (especially the slander), but maybe I really do. He's been a bad man and a worse husband, but at least he tried to keep it a secret, responded to the charge with outrage and denial, and, when he was out of options, gave a press conference that clearly communicated shame. We all exhibit moral failings, though I think most of us stop short of sending crotch shots to women we've never met (or maybe girls or maybe even overweight middle-aged men posing as hot young women - on the Internet, it's hard to know). But for Weiner's failings, at least they came with some hypocrisy in the last week and a lot of ridicule from others. It should at least be clear that we as a society - and even Weiner, himself - disapprove of such behavior.

UPDATE: My wife points out - though she didn't quite frame it this way - that I ought to distinguish between lying to save one's sorry ass and lying to avoid normalizing one's deviant behavior. In short, Weiner wasn't lying to avoid making his behavior acceptable to his constituents, he was lying because he knew that it wasn't. So, yes, most of that kudo really belongs to society.

On the other hand, I've seen a few people say that the lying itself is the reason he should resign. Should all Representatives who lie to their constituents resign? The whole House is up for reelection in a year and a half; I see no reason to put the whole House up for reelection sooner. He didn't lie under oath, as Clinton did, and he pointedly avoided calling in the cops and lying to them. Some noncriminal lies are worse than others, of course, but this one strikes me as less important to the public than the one that just got Kathy Hochul elected (i.e., Jane Corwin wants to eliminate Medicare).

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::: posted by Steven at 12:02 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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