Once, just once I would like a public servant who gets caught in an affair, or a flirtation, or in any kind of compromising but not illegal situation to look us straight in the eye right from the get-go and say, "Yup, I did it." Oh, I know, it's not going to happen. But it would be so refreshing if it did.
I am, of course, referring to the press conference held yesterday by Congressman Anthony Weiner that came ten days late and a few denials short of that blatant admission of guilt.
Do I care if he's flirting with women other than his wife? No. Do I care that he fights for my best interests in congress? Yes.
I know, I know, I heard this argument when I was defending Bill Clinton years ago. It's not the affair, it's the lying about the affair. Well, duh. If a guy cheats, he's not going to come clean until he has no choice, and by that time, there's probably already been an investigative committee set up.
Congressman Weiner was my favorite progressive congressperson still in office. So yes, I am rocking back and forth, holding my head in anguish, exclaiming aloud to an absent congressman, "You're killing me!" But exclamations aside, I honestly don't care.
I care that he can shout down the likes of John Boehner, and so only in as much as this impacts his ability to do that, does it matter to me at all. Yes, I would have preferred he not lie. And sure, I wish he were a stand up guy to his wife. But I'm not married to him, so maybe that's why I can see this as being a case of momentary, monumental stupidity.
There is a distinction between one's behavior in his or her personal life and what they can do for the good of the country as a public servant. Lyndon Johnson was doing women other than Lady Bird on the White House couch, and he still managed to pass civil rights legislation. Do I condone it? No. All I'm saying is let's not be naive about what does and does not impact our everyday lives as citizens.
I've said it before: there is a certain kind of arrogance that you have to have in order to run for public office ... and then actually do it and win. And this kind of arrogance, in my opinion, is the same kind that makes a man think he can be unfaithful and not get caught. We've seen it time and time again. And it never ceases to amaze me that people don't learn from even immediate history.
So here's what I would say to anyone doing anything they don't want landing in the public eye: Don't do it. The truth always comes out eventually. We want it to, even if we don't think we do. No one inherently wants to live a lie. It is just not how we are wired.
So to Anthony Weiner and his wife, I wish you both healing and forgiveness. Now let's get on with it. There is too much at stake in our country and in the world to spend one more minute on this foolishness. So good luck and Godspeed, Congressman.