The Weiner stan­dard: How low can we go?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

To their credit, most Demo­cratic Party lead­ers had (fi­nally) called for New York Rep. An­thony Weiner’s res­ig­na­tion be­fore he ac­tu­ally re­signed on June 16. But among lib­eral com­men­ta­tors and mil­lions of other Amer­i­cans, there was a great deal of flawed think­ing about whether Weiner should have re­signed.

The two most com­mon ar­gu­ments of­fered against his re­sign­ing have been that (1) what Weiner did was not il­le­gal and (2) it was not even as bad as an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair be­cause he never met, let alone had phys­i­cal con­tact with, any of the women to whom he sent naked and semi-naked pho­tos of him­self.

The ar­gu­ment’s en­tirely be­side the point.

The point, the whole point, is the ef­fect of what he did on the United States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and on the coun­try as a whole, es­pe­cially young peo­ple.

There is a sim­ple way to prove this. Let us imag­ine that some con­gress­man had walked onto the House floor in his un­der­wear.

I think it is fair to as­sume that just about ev­ery Demo­crat and Repub­li­can in the coun­try would de­mand his res­ig­na­tion. But why? That ac­tion is not il­le­gal, and it cer­tainly does not con­sti­tute a form of in­fi­delity to his wife.

The rea­son peo­ple would de­mand his res­ig­na­tion is that such be­hav­ior dis­graced the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

That is the is­sue here. When a mem­ber of Congress sends pic­tures of his pe­nis to women around the coun­try, he has de- meaned Congress.

And he has done so far more than any mem­ber of Congress whose ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair was pub­licly dis­closed.

Most Amer­i­cans un­der­stand that Congress, like ev­ery other in­sti­tu­tion, in­clud­ing their lo­cal church and synagogue, is com­posed of sin­ners.

While we might wish that ev­ery mem­ber of Congress were as up­stand­ing as we hope our pas­tor, pri­est or rabbi would be, most of us live in the real world and do not be­lieve that mar­i­tal in­fi­delity au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fies one ei­ther from run­ning for, or from hold­ing, pub­lic of­fice.

Fur­ther­more, we un­der­stand that mar­i­tal in­fi­delity can be solely a mat­ter be­tween a hus­band and wife, and is not nec­es­sar­ily the coun­try’s busi­ness.

But what Weiner did is the coun­try’s busi­ness be­cause of its ef­fect on the rep­u­ta­tion of the House and be­cause of its ef­fect on young Amer­i­cans.

If I were a mem­ber of Congress, I would not be livid at ev­ery one of my col­leagues who had had an af­fair.

But I would be livid at Weiner.

Ev­ery day he re­mained a con­gress­man, he made ev­ery one of his col­leagues look bad.

And at least as de­struc­tive as his im­pact on the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was his im­pact on young Amer­ica.

To ap­pre­ci­ate how ter­ri­ble this looks to a young per­son, ask your teenage son or daugh­ter if he or she would be more hu­mil­i­ated if it be­came known that Dad had had an af­fair or that Dad sent pho­tos of his pe­nis to young women he never met.

I can­not think of a sin­gle

I can­not think of a sin­gle event that sym­bol­izes the de­cline of Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, and es­pe­cially of its lib­eral elite, as much as Weiner’s ac­tions. And at least as de­struc­tive as his im­pact on the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was his im­pact on young Amer­ica.

event that sym­bol­izes the de­cline of Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, and es­pe­cially of its lib­eral elite, as much as Weiner’s ac­tions. It is al­most sur­real. The Weiner pho­tos per­vade the In­ter­net, and peo­ple like Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., did not de­mand the con­gress­man’s res­ig­na­tion, and lib­eral com­men­ta­tors won­dered whether the con­gress­man vi­o­lated any laws.

Sa­lon’s Joan Walsh on MSNBC:

“You can’t ac­cuse him of hypocrisy; he’s not a fam­ily val­ues mor­al­izer. You can’t ac­cuse him yet of break­ing the law.”

Los An­ge­les Times editorial, June 8:

“We’d pre­fer to leave it to New York vot­ers to de­cide Weiner’s po­lit­i­cal fu­ture.”

And surely the Los An­ge­les Times knows that a ma­jor­ity of New York City vot­ers say Weiner should stay in of­fice.

New York Times editorial, June 6:

“Mr. Weiner says he will not re­sign, and there is no ev­i­dence yet that he broke the law or abused the re­sources of his of­fice. He said the com­puter and Black­Berry that he used were his own, not is­sued by the gov­ern­ment.”

If you ever need to show some­one how low lib­er­al­ism has sunk in our life­time, just show him this New York Times editorial.

A con­gress­man sends pho­tos of his gen­i­talia to women he doesn’t know, and The New York Times doesn’t think he should re­sign un­less the Black­Berry he used was is­sued by the gov­ern­ment.

Den­nis Prager is a vis­it­ing fel­low at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion at Stan­ford Univer­sity.

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