First, here’s his asinine characterization of the scandal:
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York), of course, is accused of… Well, it’s not clear what, exactly, Weiner’s being accused of. His Twitter account apparently was hacked, or used by a trusted friend or employee for illicit purposes. And so, a close-up shot of a man’s crotch in underwear was sent from his account to a woman in Seattle.
By contemporary standards, the shot is pretty lame and tame. And, as soon as the Congressman realized the pic had been sent from his account, he disavowed and deleted it. The woman from Seattle, likewise, immediately repudiated the notion that she was some sort of love interest of Weiner’s […]
It’s clear, I think, that Weiner himself never sent this lewd pic to the 21-year-old college student in Seattle. However, others with access to his account or the pic perhaps did. We just don’t know — and we really shouldn’t care.
Case closed, right? I mean, things happen; accounts get hacked (or sometimes misused by trusted friends and employees); we all realize that; and so we move on.Well, no, because to impassioned partisan bloggers, both Left and Right, any such incident is a chance to score political points. It’s a chance to beat up the other side, bloody them politically, and pile on the points for your team. And so this non-story quickly — nay, immediately – became the latest “SCANDAL!”
- Weiner sent the photo and had some sort of relationship with the girl. In this case, he’s a married man and a public servant having an affair with someone young enough to be his daughter.
- Weiner sent the photo unsolicited. In this case, he’s a married man and a public servant exploiting one of his supporters’ fondness for him and sexually harassing harassing her.
- Someone else sent the photo. In this case, somebody committed sexual harassment against this girl, framing a United States Congressman in the process, but for some reason that congressman doesn’t want the perpetrator brought to justice.
UPDATE: Now that Weiner’s fessed up to the whole thing, Guardiano has another post. Does he admit that his asinine claim that it was “clear” Weiner didn’t send the photos was totally wrong? Of course not. Instead, he rips on conservatives who are openly enjoying Weiner’s disgrace and insisting that the scandal is all about Weiner’s private life, which should be off-limits:
Anthony Weiner was caught doing a wrong and stupid thing: By his own admission, he “exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.” Some of this communication took place after Weiner was married, and he lied about at least one explicit tweet.
That’s sad, shameful and embarrassing. But it also is of no real public import. It’s between him, his wife, his rabbi and his God.
In fact, it remains true even now that nobody has shown Weiner’s actions had any legal or public implications whatsoever.
The should-we-care-about-politicians’-infidelities debate is an old one, and it’s no surprise an unprincipled hack like John Guardiano takes the side of indifference. In my opinion, of course a politician’s affairs are politically relevant – they reveal whether he likely to keep promises, whether he takes trust seriously, whether he has self-control or is a narcissist, etc. And in Weiner’s case, it definitely sounds like not all of Weiner’s pen pals were interested in show & tell. Again, does the phrase “sexual harassment” mean anything to John? How pathetic is the state of American politics that we can’t even agree that swapping causal sex talk and photos with complete strangers is conduct unbecoming a congressman, and that it reveals that someone lacks the judgment we should expect out of the people making decisions that affect our lives and liberties?
Guardiano goes on to make himself look like even more of a moron:
Some have argued that, by sending explicit photos to a women he barely knew, or had just met online, Weiner made himself susceptible to blackmail. I suppose that’s technically true, but it’s also rather farfetched and unrealistic.
Weiner’s politics are well known; his congressional votes are well publicized; and so it’s hard to see how, in our open and democratic society, he could be blackmailed into changing his political stripes.
Saying Weiner made himself susceptible to blackmail is no more convincing than saying that corporate campaign contributions “buy” a congressman’s vote. In truth, campaign contributions follow a congressman’s vote; they do not direct it.
By the same token, Weiner was pursuing these women for his own personal purposes; they were not political types pursuing him for partisan or financial gain.
This is so ridiculously obtuse I barely know where to begin. First, I doubt Weiner would change his political stripes, either, but it’s incredibly ignorant and simplistic to suggest that’s the only conceivable kind of blackmail. Not all votes are a question of ideology, and there are plenty of other ways a congressman can be useful, such as pulling strings with various federal, state, and local agencies. Second, it’s even more absurd to limit the pool of blackmailers to Weiner’s known partners/victims – the point is, Weiner was so indiscriminate that he didn’t care what kind of people were getting this material, and that there’s no telling whose hands it could ultimately fall into (again with the judgment thing). Third, it doesn’t matter how unlikely blackmail is in any particular case of impropriety. Public servants are supposed to avoid even the appearance of being compromised, to maintain the public’s faith in the process.
As a political junkie, I often find myself asking one question: is Person X simply dishonest, or is he really this stupid? With John Guardiano, I honestly don’t know. Does the American Spectator, an otherwise-serious conservative publication, know how badly their association with this guy reflects on them?
The Case of Anthony’s Weiner seems to be pretty open and shut. Liberal apologists are trying to muddy the water with talk of fabricated evidence and web hacking, but it’s all crap for one simple reason: Anthony Weiner will not deny that he’s the one in the picture. In fact, word is that he privately admits he’s taken such pictures in the past. Just watch the spectacular trainwreck of an interview the Congressman had with Wolf Blitzer and tell me he’s not lying.
What makes this story relevant, though, is the glaring inconsistency between Weiner’s version of events (someone framed me) and his reaction (it’s no big deal, let’s let bygones be bygones). Contrary to Weiner’s spin, a lewd photo sent unsolicited to a college girl isn’t an innocent prank – it’s sexual harassment. Let’s state it bluntly: Anthony Weiner, a prominent United States Congressman, sexually harassed one of his young female supporters. And even if you buy Weiner’s story, then he’s essentially saying that someone who sexually harassed one of his young female supporters – and framed Weiner in the process – shouldn’t be punished.
Either way, it’s the conduct of a scumbag. How Weiner’s House colleagues, the voters of New York, and liberals across the country react will tell us all we need to know about them.
UPDATE: John Boehner refuses to comment on the issue, or whether the House Ethics Committee should weigh in. Not surprising that the Republican Speaker of the House doesn’t have the courage or the integrity to speak simple truths, but it is disgraceful. It’s stories like this that make me think the GOP has a political death wish.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
You want a surefire way to cause a cable news stir? Just pit old foes like Sean Hannity and Rep. Anthony Weiner against each other, throw in Rep. Michele Bachmann for good measure, and voila! The battle gets picked up by everyone from Mediaite and The Blaze to News Hounds and the Huffington Post.
Last night’s topic of debate was the United States’ current financial mess:
HANNITY: All right, Congressman, here’s why we are in this position. This is just a fact. You had both Houses of Congress last year — run by the Democrats. You had White House. You guys didn’t pass a budget. It is your responsibility. You should have passed the budget. You didn’t pass a budget. Now we find ourselves at this impasse.
All the Democrats are offering — it’s $4.5 billion in cuts. We have a $1.65 trillion deficit this year, after nearly three trillion of Obama debt in his first two years. And we also have, you know, $3.7 trillion budget.
You can’t find more than $4.5 billion to cut?
WEINER: Well, frankly, let’s get the history right. The Bush administration drove the economy into a cliff and we’ve been digging out ever since.
HANNITY: Blah, blah, blah.
WEINER: Well, let me answer the question. It’s true we also did add a trillion dollars of additional debt and deficit by giving tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires — something many of us opposed. But the fact is, if you look at the president’s budget –
Once again, Bush Derangement Syndrome rears its ugly head. We’re in Barack Obama’s third year as president; it’s remarkable that Democrats still don’t feel embarrassed to lay the blame for all of America’s woes, including the Obama job losses, at the feet of his predecessor. If you still think Obama has little to do with all the red ink we’re drowning in, check out this post at Maggie’s Notebook, which highlights a couple unnerving analyses of Obama’s fiscal policies. They point out that Obama’s gotten credit for the repayment of TARP loans that should go to Bush, and that “the latest Obama budget is his third straight budget calling for over a $1 trillion in spending – which no other president has ever done, and in fact no president has even asked for half that. And get this: Anderson says Obama’s three year spending binge is 37% higher than G.W.’s ENTIRE 8-YEAR PRESIDENCY.” (I’ve tackled Obama’s drunken-sailor ways before here.)
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Many outlets, including the Huffington Post, Mediaite, and the Examiner, are increasingly taking notice of Fox News anchor (and longtime left-wing drama queen) Shepard Smith for his alleged courage and principle in distancing himself from the rest of the channel’s right-wing propagandizing. He’s currently being lauded for having taken up the cause of a controversial bill to provide medical care for 9/11 first responders, angrily unloading on Republican Grinches who would dare steal Christmas from American heroes:
We’re able to put a 52 story building so far down there at Ground Zero, we’re able to pay for tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them and it’s not going to stimulate the economy. But we can’t give health care to Ground Zero first responders who ran right into the fire? Went down there to save people? Do people know what this city was like that day? People were walking over bridges, they were covered in ash, they were running for their lives, they were crying, their family members were dead. And these people ran to Ground Zero to save people’s lives. And we’re not going to even give them medicine for the illnesses they got down there? It’s disgusting, it’s a national disgrace, it’s a shame and everybody who voted against should have to stand up and account for himself or herself.
The Examiner’s Elliot Levin compares Smith to several of his Fox News colleagues, including Sean Hannity, who has endorsed the bill’s purpose but expressed reservations about the particulars, such as concern for potential abuse by illegal immigrants, suspicion about the Democrats’ refusal to pass it via simple majority in the House when they had the chance, and scorn for Rep. Anthony Weiner’s unwillingness to allow that reading a bill might be an important prerequisite for supporting it. Levin says:
While Fox’s primtime lineup of Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and to a lesser degree, Greta Van Susstren, are all card-carrying Republicans and openly use their shows to press a conservative agenda, Smith, who anchors the 3pm and 7pm shows, is well-known and liked throughout the TV news world for his passionate and apolitical perspectives.
He has also broken away from the typical conservative line in the past on issues such as torture.
Smith is at his best when it comes to hard news stories, such as car chases, wars, and natural disasters, but when he steps into politics he epitomizes the Fox News slogan of ‘fair and balanced,’ speaking his mind regardless of what his fellow anchors may be saying or believing.
Smith’s caterwauling certainly makes good on the “balance” part of the Fox promise, but “fair” is questionable.