Obligatory Wild Weiner Waggling in the Wind Post

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I really, really haven’t wanted to talk about Anthony Weiner’s weiner. Really. I still don’t want to talk about it – but there’s this void in my blog where an opinion should be, so here it is: Weiner’s been being a weenie, and he’s an incompetent sexter. When I look at the above pic, my first reaction is to squint to see what books he has on his shelves. And to admire the cats. Probably not the reaction he was going for.

First, a bit of background. I’ve been cheering for Anthony Weiner ever since I first noticed him a year or two ago. This is a guy unafraid to stand up and say what a lot of liberals have been thinking, on the floor of the House. He’s feisty and fierce and pretty doggoned smart, too. I liked that.

I had noticed him going after Clarence Thomas, who, for multiple reasons, I think should never have been appointed as a Supreme Court judge, and I approved wholeheartedly. Thomas’ corruption is at the heart of some of the corporatist crap that I most hate about what is going on in Washington, and Weiner calling him on it was the sort of thing you count on from members of the House, that unfortunately you don’t see often enough (Representative Cleaver, much as I love you, I’m looking at you – you are a prime candidate for picking up that fight).

So when Andrew Breitbart reported that Anthony Weiner was showing underwear clad photos of himself to young women on Twitter, my first reaction was to consider the (notoriously unreliable) source and dismiss it. My second reaction was ‘so what if he did’ (though I really thought he hadn’t).

Then (far too late) Weiner admitted that yes, those tighty whiteys were his (or were they boxer briefs? Whatever). A couple more pictures surfaced of him shirtless and looking a little goofy. I started unpacking all the information I had and realized that I was (and am) still missing two crucial pieces of information.

First, Weiner states that his wife knew that he enjoyed sexting before they married. Did she know he was still doing it and was the apology for the embarrassment of the publicity, or was he doing it behind her back? It matters.

I have at least a dozen friends in committed relationships who consider sexting a hobby, a harmless form of flirtation, that either or both partners is able to engage in no harm no foul. It’s not ‘typical’ marital behavior, but in those particular relationships, it’s completely okay, and therefore not cheating. I don’t know whether or not this is the case here, and have been unable to resolve the ambiguity.

Second, I’m not entirely clear on whether the young ladies who received the cell phone photos wanted them (and solicited them) or not. Yes, there’s a power differential to consider, but not in the same sense there would be if they were in the same room, or even the same town.

I mean really – do you expect the person on the other side of the chat room or Twitter feed to be exactly who they say they are? These sorts of spaces create an unreality that at least partially negates the power differential. If they were solicited, then again, what’s the fuss? Even if one has surfaced that is actually x-rated.

So I’m not sure where I stand. Sexting behind your spouse’s back is on the lowest rung of the cheater’s ladder. Sexting with their permission is foreplay. In my marriage, neither would rise to anything other than perhaps a heated argument and a detente. I don’t sext, and neither does my husband (to my knowledge) but if I discovered he did, I would be more inclined to condone it and tease him mercilessly about it than anything else. So on my personal drama scale, barely a blip.

As for the consent issue, that’s a lot bigger any way you look at it. We don’t know for sure, at this point, if he did anything that wasn’t part of a consentual (multiple consentual) flirtatious exchange. If it comes out that the one explicit (and maybe the PG-13 one) came out of the blue and was unsolicited, then that was clearly sexual harassment.

But a goofy picture of a shirtless dude with a handwritten sign that says ‘me’? Laughable on any level. The stuff of parody. Not sexy. Kind of cute in a pathetic ‘aw, look, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing’ way, but definitely not sexy.

Did he use government property to do any of this? If he did, that could be a bigger problem than any of the rest of it. Having worked for the government, they take that stuff very seriously. If he was tweeting and DM-ing from his own personal phone and email and laptop, no big deal, big whoop, etc. But on a legal level, if he used government property to do it, he’s hosed. You’d think people would learn the convenience just isn’t worth it to do stupid stuff from your employer’s equipment, but it seems to be a perennial favorite dumbass mistake.

There is one final issue in this equation: He lied. And that flat pissed me off. Yes, yes, I know politicians lie. They prevaricate and obfuscate and obliterate the truth on occasion. It’s part of the game. I get all that.

But here’s the thing – even if the very worst is true – even if it rises to the level of sexual harassment – even if he stepped on that bottom rung of the cheating ladder – even if he used government property to carry on his little game – if he’d been honest about it from day one the media would have gotten bored, the electorate would have gotten bored, and the whole thing would be long off our radar. By lying, he has greatly reduced his effectiveness as a liberal bulldog far more than he did simply by sharing a few pics of his pecs and his pecker. And that was just plain stupid.

Anthony Weiner, I thought you were smarter than that. I am truly disappointed in you. And if your wife has lost respect for you, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts it’s not about the wild weiner waggling in the wind. It’s about being a weenie.

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