Commenting on Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s statement today that his wife ““was not happy” when she learned this morning of his dishonesty, Jennifer Rubin asks, “Did she learn nothing from working for Hillary Clinton about enabling lying men?”
And didn’t Weiner, elected to Congress the year Mrs. Clinton’s husband lied about, then admitted to a sexual relationship with a White House intern, learn anything from his fellow Democrat’s experience? Maybe, he thought that he too could get away with it, as the former president did. Maybe he thought Democrats were immune from scandal.
Yet, with the new media, he should have learned that the game has changed. He should have known the perils to a married public official of seeking out extramarital dalliances, even if such flirtations are never consummated.
To be sure, his statement today was laudatory. He was forthright, didn’t pass the buck, appeared genuinely contrite, acknowledged the mistake he made and the pain he caused his family, particularly his wife. Most importantly, he acknowledged that his own dishonesty last week made his mistake “worse.”
One wonders less at his judgment in engaging in on-line flirtation and more at his judgment not just in denying it, but in the manner of his denial. Instead of merely saying that he had not tweeted the picture, he continued to deceive us in numerous public fora, including press conferences, public statements and media interviews. It was as if he undertook a press tour entirely to deceive.
When the story first broke, Weiner would have served himself well to come clean, admit, as I wrote last week that it was a dumb thing to do and that he should have known better. Such acknowledgment may well have destroyed his ambitions to become Mayor of the City of New York, but he likely would have retained his position in the House. Now, there’s a very real chance that he could lose his seat in the House (yes, even to a Republican, but more likely in the Democratic primary) if the New York legislature doesn’t decide to carve up his district (New York is losing two House seats to reapportionment).
In the wake of the Clinton and Spitzer scandals, while people are still talking about Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s extramarital dalliances, this married Congressman showed terrible judgment in engaging in on-line flirtations. He showed even worse judgment in his weeklong dog-and-pony show denying what he today admitted.
Given the initial denial and the delay in admitting the truth, one questions his sincerity. Does he regret the actions? Or does he regret that he got caught?
I do believe we should give people who admit their mistakes and show contrition the benefit of the doubt, but Mr. Weiner’s behavior last week leaves too many question.
UDPATE: Jonah Goldberg’s perspective:
I for one think we should continue to demand that our public servants be honorable men and women. We’ll often be disappointed because public servants are human beings and human beings almost always fall short of our ideals. When that happens leaders should apologize for their mistakes. Weiner has done that. Good for him. But despite assurances to the contrary, I don’t believe he has taken “full responsibility” for his actions.
Read the whole thing.