Tsach Gilboa doesn’t care what Anthony Weiner does in his private life with his phone. He does care whether he serves the people as a politician.
Anthony Weiner is at it again. He is running to be Mayor of New York City (small insignificant job running a small insignificant city) and he still can’t seem to stop “sexting” inappropriate texts and photos to strange women. This guy has a serious problem that he has yet to fix or get under control. However, the obvious question here is: whose business is this?
We humans are complicated. We are beings of depth and nuance. We are creatures of intelligence and reason with the capacity for great creativity, compassion, wealth of deep ideas, intricate thought and astonishing heights of accomplishments. We also have the unique capacity to compartmentalize our actions and energy and behave differently depending on where we are and what we are doing. Great people can and often do have infantile less desirable private sides to them. This is what makes us human. The ability to control ones passions and desires and satisfy them in the appropriate and responsible manner, as well as seeking help to control destructive and inappropriate compulsions and behaviors, is the mark of a mature human deserving of responsibilities and authority.
Taking a short walk down memory lane, it was only a short two years ago that the very same Mr. Weiner–then a congressman–was forced to deliver his farewell to congress speech. It took less than two weeks from the revelation of his “sexting” of blue text messages and photos of his junk to various women, for the party that eats its young–the Democrats–to get rid of Weiner. Although his behavior was and is somewhat bizarre, and it is hard not to get slightly nauseated when one thinks of his “Internet Sexting pre-pubescent disorder”, he did not break the law nor did it appear to impact his professional functionality. As hard as it is for some of us to believe and accept, people can be great at their profession while being deficient in other areas of their lives, and visa versa. Think of FDR and JFK, both great presidents who could not keep it in their pants if their lives depended on it. And then we had William Jefferson Clinton, again a good and accomplished president, while at the very same time, somewhat of an infantile man in his endless infidelities while running for office, and more famously, while in office literally and figuratively (in addition, as the most powerful man in the world, he could have had better taste in women. JFK had Marilyn Monroe. Bill, Jennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky?).
No, you say. You are missing the point here. It is not the infidelities we are concerned about. It is the fact that they lied about them that is the issue. It is a matter of character! Is it?
In the 2000 film “The Contender”, Joan Allen plays a Senator (Lane Hansen) nominated by the President played by Jeff Bridges (Jackson Evans) to replace his first term Vice President who suddenly died. A republican congressman played by Gary Oldman (Shelley Runyon) believes that she is unqualified for the job (she is after all a women), and while investigating her uncovers and leaks an incident where she was apparently photographed while participating in a drunken orgy, as part of a sorority initiation. Although under extreme pressure from the media, congressional confirmation hearing questioning and the President and his staff, Lane Hansen refuses to address the incident and confirm or deny anything related to it. Her position is simple: some questions are not OK to be asked and thus should not be dignified with an answer (we find out at the end of the movie that she was not the woman in question after all. It is the principal that she was standing up for).
What Anthony Weiner did in his private life is just that, private. It is between him and his wife and is none our business (why this attractive and accomplished woman is choosing to “stand by her man” when he is clearly doing it over and over again and lying about it, is another matter all together which warrants further and separate analysis). It is also interesting and ironic that Huma Abedin, his wife, happens to be a close friend and a former aid to Hilary Clinton, her mentor.
The fact that Weiner decided to use the completely open internet (no privacy included or allowed) is a separate issue which, again, speaks to his disorder and apparent narcisisem, but not to his professional capabilities. Although the Republicans predictably made mince meat out of this, we did expect better from Weiner’s own party. What happened to closing ranks, standing up and rallying around the one who lost his way? What happened to redemption and second chances?
I am the first to argue that we have the right to demand and expect our representatives in the House, Senate and Administration to behave in a manner appropriate to their position, and to devote him/her self to the work of and for the people that they represent. I will go further and state–with complete conviction–that I expect those that represent us in the highest offices of the land (Congress, Senate and the Administration) to be the brightest and best we have to offer (most current representation in Washington and in a large number of states, are clearly falling very, very short of this basic standard indeed).
The truth is that Weiner was not a good or productive congressman. He did not pass one piece of legislation, apparently did not engage with his colleagues or participate in the work and process of congress, but instead took credit for the work of others and seemed mostly interested in TV appearances and self-promotion on the floor of the house and in endless media appearances (imagine that?). 1
So Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned in disgrace, around two years ago, and went into the wilderness to lick his wounds, get psychological help, be a father and rebuild his relationship with his wife. And just as we expected, he wasted no time to come back into the public sphere and run for Mayor of the great city of New York, his ongoing out-of-control personal demons notwithstanding.
To be honest I did not pay too much attention to the race in NY. I also did not think that Weiner had a chance to convince the citizens of NYC to give him the keys to the city and entrust him with the substantial responsibility to care for, manage and lead this beloved and vastly powerful and complex premier American and international city.
Very bored I watched, as many others unavoidably did, his predictable “fall from grace” yet again. It turns out that in spite of the “redemption”, therapy, the birth of his child and the loving and supportive arms of his wife (at least on TV), little Anthony was back to the “evil” ways of his exhibitionist on line infantile fornications (apparently resuming his digital sexual activities around a year from his fall from grace, although we do not know for sure if he ever stopped).
Although not a trained psychiatrist, but being an avid observer of human nature and an explorer of the human condition, it is clear to me that Weiner is far from having his issues resolved and his destructive behavior under control. Self control and appropriate outlets for one’s desires and passions are a mark of maturity and adulthood. NYC, like the rest of America and its cities and states, needs and deserve strong, mature, smart and accomplished leaders. People who hold their elected office, and the responsibilities and hard work that come with it, as first and top priority. People who are mature enough and posses sufficient self awareness and intellect to allow them to compartmentalize their public and private life in a manner conducive and deserving of holding public office, while allowing for a meaningful and satisfying private live, to the extend possible.
Mr. Weiner (I respectfully submit) had his 15 minutes of “fame” twice, and blew it. It is time for him to drop out of the Mayoral NYC race and take a serious accounting of his life and behaviors, seek professional help and engage in the long and painful process of getting his destructive compulsions under control in order to rebuild his self respect and relationships. Being a private citizen will also reduce the pressure and scrutiny (lime light proving to be a destructive addiction for Anthony) of the public and media and give the Weiner family a chance to get back on track, if they chose to go there (and if not it, it will at least spare the rest of us the glaring endless exposure to their sordid and pathetic dance). Finally, with a name like Weiner, Anthony might want to take care and work much harder than he has been so far to avoid being a “Dick”.
Photo credit: Flickr / Pablo Manriquez