Why Progressives Should be Mad at Anthony Weiner
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Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, held a press conference Monday afternoon in New York to admit that the underwear photo sent to a 21-year-old in Seattle was, in fact, real. “Last Friday night, I Tweeted a photo of myself that I intended to send as a Direct Message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle,” he said. “Once I realized I had posted to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down, and said that I had been hacked. I then continued to stick to that story, which was a hugely regrettable mistake.”
Weiner scheduled the conference after two other women came forward saying they, too, had exchanged sexy pictures and emails with the congressman, and after right-wing fire-stoker Andrew Breitbart published two more sexually suggestive photos on his Web site BigGovernment.com.
Huma Abedin, a high-powered aide to Hillary Clinton and Weiner’s wife of one year, did not attend the press conference. When asked by reporters where she was, the congressman responded, “She is not here. She made it clear that she thought what I did was very dumb.”
Andrew Breitbart, who hijacked the stage before Weiner took to the podium, predictably displayed an incredible amount of arrogance and entitlement. Breitbart brazenly took questions from the press, playing every bit the “vindicated” soothsayer. “Quite frankly, I’d like an apology for him being complicit in a blame-the-messenger strategy,” he said, assuming the role of the victim who was burned by Weiner's dishonesty.
To be sure, Weiner should have been forthright from the beginning, but Breitbart’s megalomania
precludes the fact that many, many more people deserved an apology long before the right-wing blogger, not least of which included Weiner’s wife, his friends and constituents.
And apologize, he did. “At the outset, I’d like to say I made terrible mistakes, I’ve hurt the people I care about the most, and I’m deeply sorry,” said Weiner.
The year of high-powered men embroiled in public sex scandals soldiers on its revolting path with Weiner’s confession, although this case differs from, say, John Edwards’ baby/money scandal, Schwarzenegger’s lovechild revelations, or Chris Lee’s Craigslist solicitations for sex. First, though Weiner admitted to having sent the emails, he claimed that he never used government property to do so -- he said he sent the photos from his home computer, which is believable (it’s hard to picture him in his office in Washington taking off his shirt and snapping a webcam pic). In that sense, he did not break any laws.
Weiner admitted to text, email, and social media-based relationships of a sexual nature with six women over the course of three years, but said that he has never met them, nor has he engaged in sexual relationships with them. "I am sorry and I continue to be,” Weiner told reporters, “but I don't see that anything I did violates the rules of the House. I don't see that anything I did violates my oath of office to uphold the Constitution."
Secondly, Weiner is not a social conservative, and has, in fact, made his name on being outspoken, brash and unflinching, a true New Yorker. Hypocrisy is what made Lee resign; as Weiner noted in the press conference, he will not step down. Further, though his wife Huma Abedin refused to play the supportive spouse by his side at the press conference, Weiner says they will stay together.
She must be furious. And, without acting Breitbart-y and putting our own feelings before hers, as progressives, we should be, too.
Last week, while Weiner was busy denying the photographs were his and allegedly hiring a lawyer, he told MSNBC that he thought the incident would not distract voters from the important issues. “I think most of my constituents,” he said, “people who know me, are able to keep their eyes on the prize.”