“Were You Fully Erect?”

Jun 6 2011 @ 6:25pm

That was the last question I heard shouted by the press over the media din as Anthony Weiner copped to, er, sextweeting? The country is facing potential default, the leader of the GOP is a delusional maniac, the Middle East remains on a knife edge … and the question in the headline above is still ringing in my ears.

Weiner has not resigned and, frankly, I see little reason why he should. No one, so far as I can tell, was harrassed, no one was abused, no actual sex even took place at all. I'm not sure one can even find any hypocrisy here. Moreover, if online flirting is unforgivable, why isn't off-line flirting unforgivable? And what really is the difference? Apart from pictures that can be used to humiliate – and even blackmail.

Yes, I realize that one congressman recently swiftly resigned over a Craigslist shirtless pic, but that was a stupid response then and it remains a stupid thing now. It was and should have remained a matter between him and his spouse. Given the result of NY-26, maybe even the GOP is regretting its bout of puritanism now.

And yes, I sympathize. A similar thing was done to me a decade ago now – a sexually explicit personal for an HIV-only site was published by gay activists seeking to attack me for my politics – and it still stings. To be exposed in this way is humiliating. Watching Weiner today was painful; this is the result of raw culture war with no scruples or principles, designed purely to destroy. I don't view this as a partisan matter – I find it impossible to condemn Larry Craig out of hand and feel for Ted Haggard. And they were clearly acting hypocritically. There was also a shred of public reason for their humiliation. I don't see any broader argument being invoked here, except partisan revenge.

Should Weiner have done this? For an elected public official, it was unwise, inappropriate, stupid. For a human being, it remains well within the bounds of, well, human.

Yes, he absolutely should not have lied. He should never have lied. But he has now also copped to his lies. It would take a particularly pitiless person to pile on some more. And I am grateful that even Andrew Breitbart seems to have drawn the line there.