The Issue Of Lying

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 7 2011 @ 10:46am

Thanks for all the emails on Weiner. Reading them and thinking this through some more overnight, I think I was too brusque in dealing with the fact that he lied. We are all human, and I'm with Dan Savage on the core issue of "same old horniness, brand new box." But lying so consciously to his constituents over an embarrassment and lying to his wife does begin to trouble me in the light of a new day. Yes, he copped to his lies. And he has been humiliated enough. But still … if we do not try to hold elected officials to telling the truth, what basic civic standards are we prepared to defend?

This morning there's another troubling dimension. One if his sexting companions was Ginger Lee, who became embroiled once the "scandal" broke. Weiner directed her to lie:

On June 1, he emailed her:  "The key is to have a short, thought out statement that tackles the top line questions and then refer people back to it.  Have a couple of iterations of: 'This is silly.  Like so many others, I follow Rep. Weiner on Twitter.  I don't know him and have never met him. He briefly followed me and sent me a dm saying thank you for the follow.  That's it.'" 

Weiner suggested a nice touch — some good ol' Southern charm: "And then maybe insert some y'alls in there."

On June 2, Weiner sent Lee a proposed statement she could give to the press:  "I have nothing to do with the situation involving Rep Weiner.  I follow his twitter feed.  And for a brief time he followed me.  Much has been made of the fact that I have posted about my admiration for Rep Weiner and his politics.  All I can say about that is that I'm a fan of his.  Rep. Weiner sent me one short direct message thanking me for following him.  I have never met Rep. Weiner and he has never sent me anything innappopriate [sic] …"

Am I going to get on my high horse and say he should quit his job because he lied? No. But the public trust is gone – which is essential for a man in elected office. I think sexting is a function of hormones and fallibility; I think lying and instructing others to lie afterward is a function of bad character. Yes, the cover-up convicts him in a way the non-crime never did.