Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why whine about Weiner and not Wall Street?

It turns out that Anthony Weiner is a real dick.


Have the residents of New York’s 9th congressional district suffered from Weiner’s inappropriate online liaisons? Was he on the clock or did he use government property to bend his marital vows? Was he collecting kiddy porn or trying to entice underage boys to meet him at seedy Brooklyn motels for twisted trysts?

No. He lied. He made a mistake and he lied about it.

And even though the only person to whom he needs to answer is his spouse, Huma Abedin, whom he married last year, he’s being excoriated on the radio and online. I can’t scroll down my Facebook wall without being inundated with Weinergate-related headlines:

  • Pelosi Calls For Ethics Investigation Of Weiner In Wake Of Sexting Scandal
  • Republicans Look To Tar Democrats With Weiner Scandal
  • Anthony Weiner's Survival Chances Deemed Slim By Insiders, Experts
  • Anthony Weiner's Twitter Sex Scandal: 9 Theories on Why Men Cyber Cheat
  • Weiner Fesses Up to Online and Phone Relationships, Won't Resign
  • Anthony Weiner Finds Few Close Allies in His Party

I’m not Weiner’s Number One fan – he voted for the Iraq war in 2002 and is pro-Israel to a fault – but I respected his eloquence and toughness until this earth-shattering scandal broke. Now I’m just annoyed that a man as smart and helpful at times as this SUNY Plattsburgh graduate allowed himself to be neutralized by conservative blogger and right-wing smearmeister Andrew Breitbart.

Is sending a photo of yourself clad in tight boxers to a young woman in Seattle who follows you on Twitter.com a criminal act? No. Is lying about it reason to remove you from office and send you to the Slammer? No. Is the whole mess worthy of a congressional investigation, as Nancy Pelosi has promised? Absolutely not. Weiner showed an immature lapse in judgment and a peculiar understanding of what it means to be faithful to one’s spouse. His actions, however sleazy, didn’t result in a single person drowning near Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. Weiner didn’t cause anyone’s life savings to vanish into thin air or reveal the secret identity of any covert Central Intelligence Agency operatives.

A few months ago, one of my favorite writers, Matt Taibbi, wrote a report for Rolling Stone magazine entitled, “Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?” that includes the following:

“Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.”

Taibbi goes on to point out, “The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industry-wide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted.”

I bet Congressman Weiner is wishing he stole billions from thousands right about now instead of sending yucky pictures to a few adult women.

I started to bicker a bit yesterday with one of my Facebook friends, an intelligent and opinionated woman who posted judgmental statuses and prosecutorial tweets about Weiner. Then I realized it’s futile. People are going to vilify any public official who does anything wrong because we’re so tired of them doing so much wrong. Our ability to prioritize, our sense of perspective, of what’s Tier One and what’s not, are so skewed and worn down by greedy, scummy politicians of both parties that we’ve run out of patience and we’re ready to crucify at the drop of a pair of gray boxers. We hear so much crap about so many office holders – some true and some not – that rather than take a fresh look at each revelation, we lump all offenders in the same category and move on with our sanctimonious day. And the marketers of sleaze, the Breitbarts and Roves and Limbaughs, who are counting on our fatigue and resultant lack of discernment, laugh all the way to the bank.

Anthony Weiner isn’t a dick because he tweeted suggestive photos. He’s a dick because he reacted the same way my six-year-old does when I catch her in the act of doing something wrong: he denied it, then blamed it on someone else, then confessed when he realized that’s the best course of action. And for that, people on the left lost a powerful spokesperson and gained one more reason to be disappointed.

Sources: New York Times, Rolling Stone.

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