So Rep. Anthony Weiner finally ‘fessed up Monday that his Twitter account was NOT hacked, and he DID send a prurient picture of his namesake to a young woman, (among others), surprising absolutely no one.
When Weiner said that that he couldn’t say with “certitude” that the picture of a briefed boner was not his, he implied with a fair amount of certitude that such pictures existed, and that there was a good chance it was his. Which everyone with half a brain knew, because if it weren’t, he just would’ve said so, without qualification or hedging. There was no way he didn’t know the picture was of him. Taking pictures of yourself in various stages of undress is something the average person is going to remember doing, and a person who is into photography (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more) is highly unlikely to be so unacquainted with his/her body that s/he wouldn’t recognize it in a photo. Even if there were 92,451 pictures of his gregion on his hard drive, I’m pretty sure he’d recognize his own package from gray boxer-brief day. His lame “explanation” never computed for a minute.
What also didn’t compute is why he lied about it. Yes, he’s a relative newlywed, and a Congressman, and he probably hoped he could avoid embarrassment with his tale of hacking, but the embarrassment was happening already—it was in all the papers—and it was too late to lie. This is what I never understood about Clinton, or any of the other dozens of Congress sex scandals in the past two decades. You’re not going to get away with it, so you may as well be honest from the get-go. As mom always said, it’s worse if you lie, because not only do you have to still offer the delayed confession, but now you’re on record as not only being a philanderer, but also a big ol’ liar, and a bad one to boot.
What these guys never get is that if your chief aim is to avoid embarrassment, what you do is NOT do things that could be potentially embarrassing. That is, if you’re not cool with the whole world commenting on your wedding tackle, you probably shouldn’t send a picture of it to your thousands of followers via Twitter. That’s clearly an idiotic move. If you don’t want your teenaged love child with the maid hitting the headlines, you probably shouldn’t be having an affair with the maid. See, it’s easy!
And if you’re perfectly cool with the whole world seeing what you’re up to, then own it. Don’t lie. Be honest and shut it down with a, “Yeah, and…?” Don’t apologize to the public; you’re probably only sorry you were caught, so spare us all the charade. If you actually felt bad about what you were doing, you wouldn’t have been doing it in the first place. I keep waiting for the day where instead of the denial followed too many days later by the inevitable confession complete with expressions of regret and crocodile tears, (a confession that is equally disingenuous as the original denial), the person literally caught with their pants down says, “Yeah, it’s me. I sent that picture accidentally because I’m a Twitter noob. You may think me a low-life, and my wife is pretty pissed at me, but nonetheless, I’m an adult talking to other consenting adults; it’s not illegal, and it’s nobody’s business but ours.” That would’ve stopped the story in its tracks the first day. There’s no story, no endless debate, in honesty. Weiner kept it alive with his denials and his lies.
I think, too, that as much as honesty would be shockingly novel and refreshing for folks, it would also be humanizing, and instead of condemnation, we might find some compassion in the mix. Weiner, like Tiger, and endless other famous and/or important dudes who were thinking with the little head, were stupid for imagining that they could do these things and they’d stay private. In fact, by being famous/important, they pretty much quadrupled the chances that someone would use that digital data for nefarious purposes. Regular folks may get away with it all the time, but if you’re visible, you’re vulnerable. There’s always someone who wants something from you, or wants to take you down, and they’ll exploit your stupidity or naïveté to do it every time.
But the reality is that Weiner didn’t do anything but use the internets like a zillion people use the internets every day: to engage in virtual sexytimes. I would wager that a majority of technology-literate folks have a stash of pictures on their computers (either of themselves or others) or text that they’d just as soon not be in general circulation for any number of reasons. But the impulse has been there forever: Digital photography merely replaced its predecessor, the Polaroid; although at least with Polaroids, unless you handed the little piece of plastic to someone, you knew where they were and how many people had seen them. The internet can blow your seemingly private moment up so fast it’ll make your head spin, and some people don’t yet understand that until it’s painfully too late. However, I defy anyone to produce an e-mail or instant message user who hasn’t sent the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time at least once and been embarrassed to some degree because of it. These things happen, every single day.
It only becomes a problem because human beings, and Americans especially, have a problem with sex: we’re obsessed with it (and as it’s one of the strongest animal urges, we may well have reason to be), but we’re supposed to fight the urge, or at least pretend we do. Which is why everyone is so dismayed by Weiner’s behavior; not so much that he did it, but that he was a public figure who did it, and that just messes with the communal desire to portray the image that our collective private behavior always matches our speech-making on the subject; public figures who get caught out highlight our hypocrisy when it comes to sex, marital and extramarital. 90% of people think adultery is immoral, but anywhere from 22-60% (depending on the poll) of men have had or will have affairs in the course of their marriages, as will a lower yet significant number of women. As a whole, we talk a good game, but on an individual level, people do what they want. Which, again, should surprise no one. Public morality rarely prevents questionable behavior; it merely compels people to attempt to hide their transgressions.
The whole idea of Congress bringing him up on ethics charges is laughable to me; how many of them have been, or will be soon enough, in this same boat? That the whole nation is clutching its pearls at a member of Congress (*snort*) screwing around shows an extremely short memory, and no sense of proportion. He didn’t even sleep with these women; (doesn’t sound like any of them would have him, in any case, which speaks to their good sense.) But when you distill it to basics, all we have here is a dude who wants to shag more women than just his wife. That ain’t news; that hasn’t been news since we became bipeds. “Dude does something stupid in quest to impress woman and maybe get laid” isn’t shocking; it’s tradition.
To me, the pictures weren’t even obscene. He was bare-chested in other pictures that have come out since, but so what? I see bare-chested men jogging all the time. It’s not a big deal. And his boner was covered in the picture that first hit the airwaves, though media accounts invariably described the photo as “obscene”; a penis, even an erect one, isn’t obscene. It just is. I’m way over functional body parts being tagged as obscene and sexual just because sometimes they’re involved in sex. It’d be awesome if humanity could have an understanding and acceptance of the human body in its entirety that exceeded that of a snickering, wide-eyed 12-year-old. If you think genitals are automatically obscene or disgusting, well, I suppose you’re just a victim of your culture, but it’s probably worth unpacking that because it’s probably hurting you (and your sex life) more than you know.
That said, I think Weiner’s unconstrained libido is nobody’s problem but his unfortunate wife’s. As voters, folks shouldn’t be bothered by the sexual content of his Tweets. He’s a grown man. (Obviously.) If anything, they should be bothered by the guy’s outsized ego that made him think he should be wooing a half-dozen women besides his wife; that he thought strangers must want to see his Johnson, and that it was okay to show them even if they didn’t ask; that he showed terrible judgment and stupidity in sending the pictures in the first place, given that his being busted was a near certainty; that he lied instead of taking responsibility for his actions; and that he can’t keep a promise even to the person he supposedly loves most in the world. These, to me, are the character flaws that might make you wonder if he’s fit to govern; not the fact that he’s horny. It’s unfortunate, if unsurprising, though, that the nation is gleefully focused on the latter.