Say It Ain't So, Anthony!
I was in a good mood when I woke up this morning, but it didn’t last very long. All I had to do was access my newsfeed for my mood to sour. With my daily Internet research checks came this sad news: Anthony Weiner is resigning.
For those of you who know me, you know I’ve said multiple times: “I would move to New York just so I can vote for Anthony Weiner.”
And that’s still true. I would vote for that man in a heartbeat.
Why? Because what he did, while creepy, does not affect his politics.
Presumably, these (allegedly, as none of the women involved have said otherwise) consensual, online-only affairs had been happening for three years. That means, this was going on when he made his massively famous speech on the floor of the House, yelling at his colleagues for hiding behind parliamentary procedure. It was happening while he was shaming Republicans in the vote on Planned Parenthood. It was in progress while he was building a reputation as an outstanding voice in progressive politics.
Weiner gave a lot of progressives hope again – we had a voice, a loud one, and he was consistent in handing out logical arguments for women’s rights, for the rights of minorities, and for having a spine on Health Care Reform.
What changed now that we know all this about his private life? Well, we know he’s a bit of a creeper, and you may not want to take him up on the invitation to hang out, but politics never was about the person we wanted to have a beer with. What he did and stood for as a politician is still relevant, and is not undermined by the narrative of his personal life.
Was what he did stupid? Duh.
Was what he did wrong? Ehhh, depends on your perspective, and, really, he didn’t break a law or waste taxpayer funds. At best, he’s a narcissist. At worst, he’s a womanizer. He’s a politician.
Should he resign over it? Until David Vitter also resigns, no.
Need I remind you of Vitter?
David Vitter, a family-values Republican from Louisiana was found a couple of years ago to be on the contact list of a popular “DC Madam.” It is also known that Vitter frequented this brothel and paid for sex multiple times, even, at one point, arranging to see this prostitute from his chambers in Congress. And he’s still in office. In fact, he’s been reelected since the whole prostitution thing.
In case you need a reminder, prostitution is still illegal in DC.
According to OntheIssues.org (a handy website for anyone curious about what the voting records tend toward), Vitter is a family-values sort of politician. In 2004 and 2006, he voted to “protect traditional marriage” by voting against same-sex marriage rights. In 2003, he was given a rating of 100% by the Christian Coalition on a family-values voting record. He has voted consistently “protect the religious right” family, and greatly opposes the separation of church and state. In other words, the entire time he was instructing other people on how their marriage should be, he was fooling around on his own wife. Is that a defense of “traditional” marriage?
He got caught with prostitutes, admitted it, and still got reelected. Few, if any, Republicans called for him to resign, and he is still in the Senate, representing the people of Louisiana. What he did fundamentally undermines the moral values of the politics that he espouses, and he lost all credibility to comment on the moral lives of others, especially from a position of power.
And we force Weiner to resign?
Vitter was paying women for sex – an illegal activity – and possibly using taxpayer funds and time to arrange meetings and pay for these women.
The only “unsolicited” (confirmed) text that Weiner sent was a typo, and as far as we know, there was no exchange of money and the relationships were consensual. He lied about it, but he never testified under oath that it wasn’t him, and was working with his lawyers to find out what best to do – he stalled, basically.
And yet, and yet, Vitter gets to keep his seat while Weiner is forced (by his own party, mind you) to pack up his office and head home.
The news this morning has left me yelling “COME ON” at my computer screen ala Arrested Development.
There are many days in American politics that leave me with a sour taste in my mouth. This is, by far, in the top five.
Over the next week or so, I’ll put together some posts about the role of women in a political scandal – the Vitter scandal, in particular, highlights an interesting problem with prostitution laws – and the pressure that female politicians face in being scrutinized even more heavily than their male peers. Stay tuned.