To those in Washington who used to call yourselves friends and colleagues of Anthony Weiner, and have been publicly lambasting him for his alleged indiscretions, you can stop now. Enough sanctimony. Whether we are talking extramarital affairs, campaign fund abuses, influence peddling, White House trysts, lies, drugs, prostitutes, or any of the other unsavory behaviors engaged in by public figures over the years, this is a much bigger deal for you than it is for us. Voters are used to being disappointed. For politicians this is not a disappointment. It is an opportunity to get behind a microphone.
Democrats have scurried away from Representative Weiner as if he was wearing a leper’s bell. Capitol Hill denizens seem to think that remarks about ethics create a distance between themselves and the scandal of the moment. It does not. Instead, it reinforces the irony of our national legislative body holding itself to any ethical standard.
Feigned or not, congressional outrage is difficult to confront with a straight face. Weiner’s behavior is not something to endorse, but compared to legitimate but ethically bankrupt practices like appeasing special interests for votes, we would be better off with pictures of a boxer-clad congressman. Pictures don’t run up the deficit, and they don’t serve as excuses for unaffordable social spending.
The problem is not Mr. Weiner’s behavior. The problem is that lawmakers insist they are above this sort of thing, as if political office confers a higher standard while everything from earmarks for votes to creepy behavior in public restrooms has told us otherwise. We create ethical bogeymen like Anthony Weiner, and make them larger than life when we buy into the argument that politicians exist on a plane above us.
Instead of being distracted by ethical issues where ethics have no relevance, we should worry about the agenda Weiner and his fellow Democrats are promoting while we ingest the newest updates on the scandal. The congressman supports a 10% tax break for the middle class, and tax hikes for those making over $1 million.¹ Representative Weiner sounds earnest, if not articulate in his dedication:
I’m committed to fighting for real solutions to the problems faced by our middle class, which is why I have proposed dozens and dozens of ideas that simply oughta be laws.²
He damned the GOP for not supporting an immigration bill, which won’t help his chances for finding a new party to join after the Democrats have washed their hands of him:
If the GOP wants to be the party of demagoguery and hate, they will continue to tie up this job-creating reform.”
“But then they relegate themselves to a future as a minority or fringe party in an increasingly diverse nation.”³
As Weiner’s story unfolds, he may turn out to be a godsend for the Democratic Party. While voters are distracted by media coverage of aberrant behavior, and listen to self-serving statements about ethics, Democrats can concentrate on the really evil stuff. Like raising taxes, and turning illegal immigrants into citizens.
Thanks, Representative Weiner. That’s just what we need.
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