I don’t know a lot about Anthony Weiner. Prior to the last few days, all I’d seen of him was some uncharacteristically entertaining C-SPAN footage on YouTube. I’ve now seen more of him than I’d ever expected or wanted to see, but my impressions of him remain essentially the same: sharply intelligent, headstrong, ballsy. (Little did I know.)
I understand that a lot of people’s moral sensibilities are offended by Weiner’s transgressions, whether or not these relationships were consummated. I feel for his partner, and am perplexed at how someone who otherwise seems so smart could be quite this stupid in his handling of online activity. But try as I might, I have yet to come up with a compelling reason for why, aside from the amount of coverage the story is getting at the moment, this would interfere with his ability to do his job. (True confessions: I talk back to the Daily Show. When John Stewart said that Weiner needed to step down if the story was true, I asked him why. He hasn’t answered, but I still want to know.)
Twitter and Facebook are facts of life; millions of people successful carry out their day-to-day lives while tweeting and doing whatever it is that people on Facebook do. Political careers can clearly continue despite sexual misconduct: I give you Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich, even Bill Clinton (and on and on and on). While Weiner was involved in what was ostensibly a breach (or several) of personal ethics, the man didn’t pledge monogamy to me, and I haven’t seen evidence of any such breach as pertains to the contract he did make with the public. Beyond that, though- as someone whose hackles are always raised when attempts are made to equate a woman’s sexual behavior with her character or capabilities, I just can’t get with the kind of blatantly contradictory attitude required to reject that line of thinking in one situation and endorse it in another. When you’ve got evidence of bona fide political corruption, come talk to me. Until then, I think that collectively we’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Do you have a solid reason for Weiner stepping down that I’ve overlooked? Am I being a bad Internet Feminist by making a connection between these situations? Other thoughts? Do tell.