I seek not to defend the conduct of Anthony Weiner, but rather, I seek to defend the man. His unusual actions and the deception he directed toward the American people, and more importantly, to his wife, is a serious matter. However, his personal life is just that, personal. The raucous calls for his resignation from both sides of the isle are horribly misguided for several reasons.
While the personal actions of Representative Anthony Weiner seem lewd to many, they have yet to constitute an illegal act. Until it can be proved that Weiner broke the law, there is no reasonable basis to make a legitimate claim that he should resign his post in the House. If Weiner is to be expelled from Congress, then why not Republican Senator David Vitter, who confessed to using prostitutes? Why was there no bi-partisan call for the resignation of Republican Senator John Ensign, who had an affair with one of his staffers and then arranged for the husband of his generally reluctant “mistress” to receive a lobbying job? For those who have whole-heartedly jumped on the resignation bandwagon, you should realize that the actions of Vitter and Ensign actually constituted prosecutable crimes, yet Vitter continues to serve, and Ensign was allowed to resign of his own volition before an ethics committee hearing, yet no criminal investigation has followed.
On the issue of sexual morality, well, that issue is entirely subjective. Some might see the exchange of explicit photos to be immoral in an ostensibly sexual manner. The key thing to remember is that Anthony Weiner has never campaigned on the issue of being a sexual Puritan, he campaigned on legislative issues. He has never taken the moral high-ground on all matters sexual and wielded it as a weapon against political opponents, as have Newt Gingrich, John Ensign, David Vitter, Mark Sanford, and Larry Craig. For those foolish enough to believe that sexual morality is what makes a person fit for office, then they might find the following history lesson a little hard to swallow. Some of the greatest of the founding fathers, the gold-standard of the American moral identity, were by today’s standards of sexual morality, “marred and impaired” by immorality. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, were all alleged to have engaged in sexually immoral acts. Moving on, several of our most influential presidents have been involved in acts of perceived sexual immorality, notably, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. The point is simple, the fate of our nation does not hinge on what lawmakers do in their bedrooms, it hinges on the policy decisions that they make.
For those who are lobbying for the resignation of Rep. Weiner because he lied and acted immorally, where is their morality when they knowingly and publicly condemn a man for committing no crime, calling him a “creep” as RNCC Chairman Priebus has. More importantly, where is the all important virtue of forgiveness? On the count of Weiner’s egregious lies, we seem to be forgetting that’s simply what politicians do, but instead of lying, we give it a friendly term like “waffling”. Where was the bi-partisan outrage about the Bush Administration’s lies about conclusive evidence of WMDs in Iraq, and its recent lies about the effectiveness of torture? Those are the lies the public should be concerned about, the lies that cost American lives and disgraced the United States, something that lewd photos posted on Twitter will never do.
Now there’s the issue of cowardice. This is directed at members of the Democratic Party and liberal commentators that heralded Anthony Weiner as the champion of the progressive movement for his ferocity on the house floor on behalf of the American people, but who have now abandoned him. For those who seek to cast Weiner aside because he has supposedly endangered the progressive movement, what does it say of the progressive movement if it not only forces its followers to abide by archaic conservative morals, but silences its loudest voice for such a reason? What does it say of this movement and the intestinal fortitude of liberals if they willingly surrender one of their own to those who fight against everything in which a progressive believes?
The bottom line is that Anthony Weiner has so far committed no crime. He has not embarrassed Congress any worse than David Vitter. His sexual proclivities have not impaired his ability to legislate. His constituents, by a nearly 2 to 1 ratio, do not want him to resign. Weiner himself does not want to resign. I do not want him to resign. For those that call for his resignation but not that of the others listed above, shame on you for possessing such a flawed sense of justice and equality.
I can tell you that so long as Representative Weiner has broken no law, I am committed to standing behind him. I believe that a man is innocent until proven guilty, and that condemning someone based on their sexual preferences and persuasion is not only simple minded, but immoral in and of itself.
There is one last thing that I will tell you. If I had the privilege of serving in the United States House of Representatives, I would be at this very instant standing beside Representative Weiner. If the fear of political defeat and slightly slowed political momentum is enough to cause the whole of the Democratic Party to cast a decade old ally and colleague to the wolves, then cowardice is their cross to bear. I however, would be proud to sit next to the man who so passionately fought tooth and nail for compensation for the 9/11 responders, for universal healthcare, and for the middle and lower class. If a man’s value is to be determined at his lowest point, then not one among us is worth very much.
-Uncle Festus, 6-09-11