As Rep. Anthony Weiner prepares to resign, it is important to remember why his personal transgressions are a fundamentally important issue in politics.
Weiner’s unethical conduct is vast: He (1) lied about, then (2) back-tracked and admitted to a string of (3) immoral sexting escapades with young women and (as of yesterday) a former porn star/ stripper, and (4) asked some of these women to lie about the situation. All the while, Weiner’s wife of less than a year is pregnant with the couple’s first child.
This string of events has ruined the public’s trust in Weiner’s ability to properly govern, raising questions about whether there are other cases in which he lied to cover his tracks of misdoing. Weiner could have had similarly irresponsible behavior on the job, and, if unchecked, his irresponsibility could have translated at some point into misguided or illegal governance.
Politics should not be seen as a platform for leaders to simply do their job and go home. Politicians should be similarly accountable when they are off the clock and living their own lives. Politicians have a duty to uphold not only legal, but also moral standards.
Sure, from a macho perspective the guy has balls (as we’ve seen) to flirt around with the likes of porn stars. But the argument that Weiner should not be judged because his sexting adventures did not conflict with his political duties is false. Weiner’s full-time, 24-hour, 365 day job is to be a strong and up-standing leader.
And it is not just politicians who share this full-time job in our society. We hold other professions in equally high regard. A police officer or fire fighter, when off duty, should not fail to do their job because they are not on the on-the-clock response team. The popular cliché during a crisis is for a citizen to yell, “Is there a doctor in the house?” and we don’t often hear about off-duty medical professionals standing idly by and watching a person die. Failing to assist in a robbery or heart attack would get an off-duty police officer or doctor in just as much trouble within their respective fields as Weiner is now in within his field of politics.
A U.S. Army staff sergeant recently halted a robbery while on leave, so why can’t Weiner halt his naughty behavior?
American society has always placed leaders on a high moral pedestal. Bill Clinton was roasted for his sexual transgressions. Scores of other politicians have also recently been ripped for their infidelities.
The only silver-lining we can draw from this incident is that Weiner did the right thing and resigned.
Weiner’s situation should be viewed as an extension of his job performance.
His wife will be pissed, and so should we.
Photo Credit: Tony the Misfit