In Which I Confess Some Doubts Update: In Which I Overcome These Doubts
Kristen Powers is very inconsistent in her new column damning Weiner, by the way.
Just pointing this out. I don't think it's a big deal.
Yesterday, or the day before, I heard Kristen Powers claim for those who allege "it's not about the sex, it's about the lying," it really is about the sex.
This is a Clinton-era go-to defense, that, as she says (and was said 100x in 1998-99), if you're going to have illicit sex, of course you will also lie about it; the two things are bundled, a package deal. Few people have illicit sex and then tell the truth about it.
Hell, we've accepted this idea so much that Presidents are permitted to lie under oath about it.
So her point is that this is just about sex, then -- the lying being a necessary consequence of the sex -- and that this is nobody's business, except his wife and family's.
I haven't hit the moral card very hard because I don't know how I feel about this. I know David Vitter had all the holes punched in his Subway Frequent Whoremonger Card (get a free girl sandwich!), and he stood for reelection, and won, and I'm not terribly upset by that.
So I guess maybe the liberals are right -- honestly, who knows, maybe the only thing that matters is, as Amanda Marcotte avers, whether they vote the right way. (Link to Stace McCain's piece challenging this notion.)
He lied to her, personally, you see. That's why she's turned.
I guess I can see that, and I don't mean to bait, but of course he lied to a journalist, Kristin.
Here's her story. After Weiner reassured her this was all just a rightwing set-up...
He knew I was going on the show Hannity, where I would use this false information to defend him in front of millions of people. I did, and I regret it. The previous day I had reluctantly done an interview with the New York Post at his request to talk about what kind of boyfriend he was. In that story I didn’t address the controversy but talked about my experiences with him. Nonetheless, my friends were furious when the real information came out and they realized he had allowed me to become involved in his sordid controversy. I just felt sorry for him and his wife.
In an interview with Greta Van Susteren the evening of Weiner’s tearful press conference, I told her I didn’t believe he needed to resign because his behavior was not related to his official capacity and that this was between him and his wife and, ultimately, the voters. Yes, he lied, I acknowledged, but everyone lies in sex scandals.
his is my general view of sex scandals. But there is lying and then there is what Weiner did. Due to nonstop meetings, I had not had time to watch his media blitz prior to my Greta interview and was slack-jawed when I saw clips of him the next day sneering and pointing fingers at other people for what he knew he had done. I am of the general view that politicians are not the most honest group of people, but, even using that very low standard, what I saw in those interviews was deeply disturbing. There is no way anyone can ever believe anything Weiner says again after that. In fact, I highly doubt that what he said in his press conference is even true.
Narcissism doesn’t begin to describe this kind of behavior. It seems there was nobody he didn’t lie to. The New York Times reported this morning that he told donors a week ago that the scandal was the result of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” and that “everything [would] be fine.” We also learned after his press conference that he coached a former porn star with whom he had communicated online on how to lie to the media.
So the distinction is between lying humbly and lying arrogantly?
Which of the two was Clinton guilty of?
It seems to me that is a quickly-crafted distinction to explain a sudden shift from one position to another.
And I'm not beating on her about that; we do not think with our brains. We think with our guts. Our brains just make up the logical-sounding words to make it sound like we came by our positions intellectually. We didn't. Few do.
So it could just be that in 24 hours her gut changed -- guts work on emotion -- and now her logic necessarily follows, as it tries to make sense of what the gut is saying.
I have to confess to being unsure of the path here. For days -- for two weeks, I guess -- I have wondered "Why am I doing this? What do I care?"
It wasn't because I hated Weiner. He was an annoying puffed-up partisan brat, sure, but there are dozen others ready to take his place on MSNBC and Kos' Wall of Heroes. He was inconsequential, politically.
Well, except for being well-positioned for a mayoral run, but honestly, I didn't even know about that until this story broke.
I guess it just annoyed me at some level that he was lying, and people weren't calling him on it.
It seemed obvious. He's lying. Isn't anyone going to note this in the media?
And don't we usually note lies? Why are we suddenly giving this one a pass?
Because he's a liberal and so Howard Kurtz takes his transparent lies as authoritative?
Because it's about sex? Have we all agreed to this idea, that lies about sex are okay? Does that mean the media gives the next Republican who lies about sex as similar pass?
Oh wait, no, then that's hypocrisy. Full spectrum flood-the-zone coverage.
So I don't know. Should this matter, especially when, if Kristen Powers' initial position is true (and I'm not sure it's not), that "everyone lies about sex"?
I don't know. I don't know.
I know that when the pictures were actually released Monday, I had a queasy feeling. And while I had previously been keenly interested in vindication, motivated by intellectual vanity, now I sort of began to have empathy and kept thinking, and writing, "Call the fight. Make it stop."
I wanted him to resign less to have a scalp than to just get it all behind us.
I don't know. I don't know what the hell happened here, really, now, looking back.
Great to "win" and be "right" and all that but today's revelation of a pregnancy really just makes this all seem less like partisan sport and more like simple cruelty.
I don't know. I'm just thinking. Or my gut is thinking, and I'm typing out the words my brain is giving me in translation.
Correction: I initially wrote Larry Craig continues on as Senator, which he does not.
Regrets About Regrets: Commenters are having none of my 11th hour sweetheart act and point out this was pretty bad behavior.
Yes... but then, I guess it is about the sex, contra Kristen Powers.
One thing I reminded myself of, through my doubts, was that this was flagrant, brazen, reckless, begging-to-be-caught behavior.
Cheaters always get caught anyway, and when you're this out of control...? Forget about it.
And I did know those other pictures were in the mix a week before they dropped.
So I knew that he was really basically going kookoobananas online, trolling for cybersex with almost-complete-strangers, twice in a month, and that's just what we know about.
Who knows what the coming weeks will reveal.
So... this guy was having some kind of a blaze-of-glory cybersex dignity-firesale.
I guess this wasn't an investigation so much as an intervention.
Like I said, I don't know. I said that a dozen times. I mean that. From the gut to the brain to the fingers to the screen.
Oh: The other thing that I thought, frequently, when I asked myself, "Why push this?," is: Because this is what we do.
Is that a good system? I don't know, but it is the system.
And I know I got very angry indeed when champion dickweed Howard Kurtz sneeringly informed me that in this one case, it would not be the system.
Unacceptable, Kurtz. We shall not have a regime of hard, punitive rules for conservatives and soft, forgiving rules for liberals.
I believe both parties, and most people in the public eye, would agree, if they could make an agreement which could be enforced and relied upon, that "We shall not beat up each other over this stuff."
That would accrue to everyone's interest in the political/media class. Note I speak only of this class. I am not saying that this agreement would serve anyone else's interests. But it would serve politicians' and media-types' interests.
You don't screw with me, I don't screw with you. For this class, such an agreement would be mostly upside.
But the problem is, of course, the same one as is the whole point of the Prisoner's Dilemma: You can't trust your opponents to go soft on you.
So what do you do? Concede the field, in which case only your own allies get pummeled like this, but you sweetly avoid pummeling their guys in the hopes that they will honor their side of the bargain?
They won't. They never do.
MSNBC placed an ad buy on my site in late 2006, before the elections. The ad was intended to be -- from the looks of it -- a rotating headlines ad, in which they'd update the headlines every few days.
They never updated it.
For three months, I had the Mark Foley story at the top of the column. Because that's the story MSNBC wanted on conservative websites.
I think this is why I yelled and bitched when not enough people on the right were, to my line of thinking, pushing the story hard enough. I thought maybe they were sort of looking at this in Prisoner's Dilemma terms and deciding that something like mutual restraint was the best strategy for both parties here.
The trouble is, the other side will never reciprocate in that strategy. Even if the Democratic B-Team honors it (the actual Democratic Party), the more important Democratic A-Team won't (the liberal media).
So even if we'd prefer, if it were possible, some kind of "let's go easy on each other's fallen angels" barter, it doesn't matter what we'd prefer, because we can't have that. It's not on the table; it's not being offered. It's impossible.
Oh Yeah: And I completely failed to mention the "vast right wing conspiracy" gambit, in which innocent people are to be deliberately framed for a #Hack! that never happened in order to spare a narcissistic douchebag a moment of mortification.
Breitbart, PatriotUSA, everyone at the Big blogs... everyone was going to get framed and smeared to protect Weiner from his own Joe Esterhaus-level sexual compulsiveness.
At some point -- and that point was reached 12 hours after Weiner tweeted his junk -- it was either going to be him, the actual malefactor, or us, who didn't do anything except notice bad behavior, who was going down.
And yes, at that point, forget about it, I and other good people aren't going down just because the media finds us more attractive villains.
Forgot all about that.
One last point, and I do think this is a last point: As McCain gets at, isn't the claim to be a "feminist" -- all concerned about women's welfare and their treatment as equals rather than objects -- serve as a powerful predicate for laying the "hypocrisy" charge at the feet of liberal fallen angels?
How many coeds do you have to dick-dial behind the back of your pregnant wife before someone notices that maybe that's not exactly congruent with the teachings of Gloria Steinem?
As Bob Loblaw famously asked, "Why should you go to jail for a crime that someone else... noticed?"