An old member of this decade's "Hall of Shame," former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has been reinstated in the group of high-profile American politicians involved in sex scandals: former presidential contender John Edwards, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, former Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and of course former President Bill Clinton. It's not shocking anymore -- in fact it's almost cliché. A powerful politician can control a community but can't control himself.
As you may remember, Weiner, who served New York's 9th congressional district, first confessed in 2011 that he had sent improper photos of himself to women and that he'd had inappropriate online relationships and lied about them.
Then in July, while he was trying to get back into politics as a candidate for mayor of New York City, Weiner admitted to having sexted again after more explicit pictures were published that same month. Such great material for late-night comedy!
I wonder why a public figure would risk his reputation, marriage and career on a sexual urge that can so easily become public, like sexting. Answers are plentiful: a June 2011 story on CNN gives one from Dr. Marvin Zuckerman, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Delaware, who defines those who follow through on impulses and ignore risks as "high-sensation seekers." "They pursue sensations that are novel or intense, such as exchanging flirty banter over social media, sexting or having an extramarital affair," CNN reports.
Some people claim that new products and platforms of our time, like smartphones and Twitter, are responsible. They easily remove barriers between impulse and action. It seems social networking makes us more vulnerable and has brought us down. Weiner's self-destruction is an example and a terrible blow.
How about women? How does Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, feel? She started working as an intern for Hillary Clinton in 1996, and I assume she helped the former first lady through Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. Sadly, Huma is now in Hillary's shoes. It's Mrs. Clinton's turn to comfort Abedin (again).
"Huma Abedin has the energy of a woman in her 20s, the confidence of a woman in her 30s, the experience of a woman in her 40s and the grace of a woman in her 50s," Clinton told Vogue in 2007. "She is timeless. Her combination of poise, kindness and intelligence are matchless," she added. How dare a "wise" man cheat on a woman like her?
Interestingly, when Weiner admitted to sending explicit messages and photos to women online two years ago, Abedin didn't stand by him. Weiner made his public confession alone.
But this time she is right there with him.
She was very supportive when Weiner announced another round of explicit online exchanges last July. "It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy to get to a place where I could forgive Anthony," Abedin said. "It was not an easy choice in any way, but I made the decision that it was worth staying in this marriage."
As she's sweet and smart and Weiner's so brash and impudent, I don't know how long their marriage will last, but it seems Abedin needs to stay in the marriage a while in the interests of her career.
Weiner has shown us once more that without faithfulness a powerful person can end up very vulnerable and miserable -- without even realizing what's going on. Since lack of faithfulness is a major cause of failure, we have to understand what exactly it is and practice faithfulness in every aspect of our lives -- because faithfulness is a key to long-lasting success and happiness.
*A definition of "sexting" from the U.S. Congress: "A term coined by the media that generally refers to youth writing sexually explicit messages, taking sexually explicit photos of themselves or others in their peer group, and transmitting those photos and/or message to their peers."