Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's the deal with Weiner?

AOG, Madrid

Ok, I confess, before all the media attention surrounding "penisgate" I hadn't much heard about Congressman Anthony Weiner. 

I mean, I live on the other side of the Atlantic, and I have the local European politician crew to keep me entertained (or not, as the case may be), so why should I have heard of him before now.

However, I must tell you that my European friends are, once again, appalled at the way American politics works. They really don't see what the big deal is with this guy and they find his resignation rather strange for what they think is a no-crime. 

Especially when they read things about him on the New York Times that say he was: "a once-promising politician whose Brooklyn roots and scrappy style made him a leading candidate to be the next mayor of New York". 

Well, yes I think he made a mistake or two along the way but...I mean, where exactly does America think it is doing its shopping for politicians? And, why do we think that our politicians should not be allowed to be human and make mistakes?

Personally, I think the whole affair has gone a little out of proportion. He is still a brilliant politician, that hasn't gone away. Ok, so his behavior was "lewd" to quote NYT. But...I'm sorry is the only politician on Capitol Hill who has ever made a mistake such as this? Is he to be ostracised for the rest of his life because of one error? Or even two? And in fact, which is the bigger error, his actions or his attempt to deny them?

Yes I know, he sent "lewd" pictures of himself to women on facebook and Twitter. Ok so, after apologizing to the women in question, is his resignation really necessary? If he were not a politician, his actions would more than likely be brushed aside as "typical male behavior" or perhaps the behavior of someone who needs help, not public outcry. 

I cannot say I know all the particulars, but if I got a "lewd" picture of the type seen online these days from a work colleague I would think the man needs help, but little else. I would not ask for his resignation, I would ask the powers that be to talk to him and get him some counseling. Especially if he/she is an esteemed colleague. 

If it is someone I despise, then yes, I would probably want his/her head on a silver platter. I am only human. 

But my wanting revenge, or at least leverage, would still not obscure the fact that my colleague was actually good at his/her job. Which is what makes my Euro friends think we are not putting this entire Weiner thing into perspective. 

And yes, they quickly say things like "Why are Americans so offended by nudity?" or "Why are Americans so puritanical?" I don't think they see a connection since the country is perceived as being slightly manic. 

On the one hand, we give money to the poor, and on the other, we invade poor countries which are weak (because, god forgive, we should invade North Korea who does have nuclear weapons, or Iran or China) and within our sphere of national interest as defined not by public opinion but rather by the -I'm hoping- learned opinion of our political leaders. 

It is hard for them to be on our side (but we knew this even before 9-11), and when scandals such as this one pop up, Europeans look the other way and wondering why the double standard and why are his own party so quick to condemn? 

Well, the reason is probably because they are in a state of panic over the next presidential election and they want absolutely no whiff of a scandal anywhere near them. But is this really necessary? 

Do they think that by not supporting this Congressman in a time of need they really look good in the public eye? That public condemnation from his own party looks good for so small a non-crime?

Yes, of course, I assure you that European politicians and European political life is filled with irony and hypocrisy too. There is nothing new under the sun anymore. But back to Washington.

 Am I supposed to believe that the rest of his fellow politicians never made mistakes? That's a tall order. If anything, I'd concede that they have made mistakes which no one has heard about, but mistakes, believe me, they have made. We all have. 

And bottom line is, he hasn't killed anyone or embezzled millions of dollars from anyone, he sent pictures of his penis to adult women on the internet. No, he shouldn't have. Of course not. And he should not have lied about it. But I think we should get some perspective here.

Everyone who lives on this planet has made mistakes at one time or another, though perhaps we are not all as gracious as he has been:

"I am here today to again apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused", as NYT writes.

Will the world be a better place if Anthony Weiner, a seven-term Democrat is not working in politics? Probably not. It will be a little bit worse off, of that I'm sure it will be.

As a sort of personal consolation, which Mr. Weiner will probably never know about because he will never read this blog, is that on facebook, among my gay friends, both American and European, the fact that he did all this made them all like him even more. 

Yes, probably for "lewd" reasons, but...isn't voting for a politician because he is good looking or handsome, or she is attractive, just as lewd? 

Do we vote for ugly people very often? Am I mistaken in thinking that it is usually the attractive candidate who wins? Not not always, but often enough? 

Mr. Weiner, I'm sorry you could not behave better, but I'm also sorry that his has been blown out of all proportion. If you need help, I hope you get it.

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