Twenty years ago, when liberal interest groups were trying to derail the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, they trotted out a former employee of the distinguished jurist who alleged that that good man once complained about some pubic hairs on a can of Coke and even claimed to be an aficionado of pornographic films featuring a performer whose stage name was similar to that of a famous priate. Such comments supposedly made him guilty of sexual harassment. In the highest of dudgeon, a handful of angry feminist Congresswomen (none of whom would later criticize Bill Clinton for allegedly raping a woman) marched across Capitol Hill, demanding the Senate look into these foul deeds.
If Mr. Weiner did indeed send the tweet (as his recent obfuscations suggest he did) and had acknowledged as much, conservatives would have been wise to leave him alone and ask that liberals show similar respect when they learn of the minor transgressions of conservative Congressmen.
At least since the Thomas hearings, Democrats — and their interest group allies — determined to defeat conservatives at all costs, have engaged in the politics of personal destruction. When they uncover stories about the minor transgressions of a conservative lawmaker or public official, a compliant media helps them broadcast their findings to a broader audience. Until the rise of the new media, conservatives muckrakers uncovering similar information about Democratic officials have not found as ready a megaphone.
That this story became news has more to do with the door that Democrats, most notably the chairman in 1991 of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opened when they invited Miss Hill to testify before said committee, than it does with conservative delight in mocking the sanctimonious New York Democrat.
If there Mr. Weiner’s twitter were indeed hacked, the story should die until an investigation into the hacking were complete. That Mr. Weiner felt the need to obfuscate suggests he is well aware that today even minor transgressions can significantly impact a Congressman’s career. And for that, he shouldn’t be blaming conservative bloggers or Republican politicians, but wonder why his fellow Democrats were so quick to raise such a ruckus about a law professor’s allegation that her one-time boss once engaged in poddy talk.
(When this story began, I took little interest in it, perhaps because I know so little of Twitter. I had just assumed the Congressman, feeling lonely one night, meant to sent out a picture to one young woman, but inadvertently sent it to quite a few more (a hypothesis shared by others more familiar with the medium–the latter link via Instapundit). I am only know becoming familiar with the idea of what it is to follow someone on Twitter and that this Congressman, followed by tens of thousands himself only follows 198, many of whom are attractive young women. And he a married man.)
So, with that in mind, if it’s an issue when a divorced nominee for the Supreme Court asks a female employee about pubic hair on a can of Coke, then it’s an issue when a married Congressman shares such a picture with a co-ed.
Neither story, I believe, should attract the type of media frenzy we saw twenty years ago — or in the fast five days or so. It’s too bad Mr. Weiner can’t come clean and turn this into a teaching moment for all of us, saying it’s time to stop the politics of personal destruction whether directed against a conservative jurist who allegedly made some off-color remarks to a co-worker or the indiscreet tweets a liberal Congressman made to a co-ed.