I am struck by the inability of otherwise admirable progressive politicians to keep their trousers zipped. Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and now, the unfortunately named Anthony Weiner have all been embroiled in completely avoidable sexual scandals due to a mixture of hubris and bad judgment.
I wish we did not care so much about the private lives of our politicians. Personally, I don't really care if they sleep around as long as they vote the right way. I don't respect them for it, as I have a strong belief in marital fidelity, but I don't think it's my business to dictate personal ethics to other people about sexual expression between consenting adults.
But what I think doesn't matter: as a society, we DO care, and the media and political opponents are always looking for a "Gotcha!" moment. Andrew Breitbart and his fellows have a row of scalps. These men knew that. Yet they still let themselves be driven to express sleazy extramarital sexuality. Bill Clinton's presidency was undermined by his affair. John Edwards has been indicted for financial malfeasance to cover up his illegitimate child. And now, Anthony Weiner's career is over.
It doesn't matter that Weiner's sexting was consensual, or that thousands of men do the same thing daily. What matters is that he showed an appalling and arrogant lapse of judgment, and then lied about it. (Indeed, one might argue that for Clinton, Edwards and Weiner, the situation might have been redeemable if they simply had told the truth.) He's a public figure and he knows the rules. He broke them in an act of massive stupidity, with completely predictable results. And now, his unwillingness to resign is hurting the Democrats and giving the Republicans something to point out with scornful glee.
Thanks for nothing, Rep. Weiner. You knowingly betrayed your constituents and your supporters, let alone your wife, for a smattering of sexual titillation. You knew the dangers. You knew your responsibilities. Was sending a TwitPic of your crotch really worth your career?