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June 11, 2011

Verum Serum: Randiest Tweet About A Different Boy

The dirtiest public Tweet wasn't about Weiner, but a boy, either the girl's boyfriend or a male friend she just bantered radily with.

That's actually true. Case closed on that.

And it's even possible -- maybe likely -- she didn't even write that.

However, that Tweet was never really offered as smoking-gun proof Weiner had talked dirty to the girl. It was offered as evidence that she'd be an "interesting" follow for Weiner. Combine that with repeated protestations of her "love" for Rep. Weiner and what you have there is a girl that your reasonably-prudent man doesn't DM.

When Weiner DM'd her, could he be certain she wouldn't say she loved him? Or otherwise express her crush? No. In fact, he could be pretty confident she would say something along those lines.

So why DM her? Why, if not precisely for that?

Patterico find the NYT spinning for Weiner:

BONUS MEDIA ANALYSIS: I love that bit [in the NYT's restatement of the scandal] about how he sent out “a photo . . . of himself in his underwear.”

Yeah. That’s one way to put it. There is also the tidbit, which goes unmentioned, that in his underwear was the clearly visible outline of an erect penis. You know, the thing that really makes it a scandal. But why report that part?

While we’re complaining about the New York Times story, please note how it takes the above “Tights and cape shit” quote and cleans it up as follows:

“I came back strong,” he wrote. “Large. Tights and cape. …”

Interesting how the reporter omits any reference to the word “shit,” which infuses the communication with a creepy, seedy familiarity that would make any father’s blood boil. A Congressman talking about “tights and cape” is odd. A 46-year-old Congressman talking to a high school junior about “tights and cape shit” is very different. By using a period followed by an ellipsis — not just omitting the profanity but pretending it was never even there — the reporter twists the facts to make Weiner’s conduct more innocent.

That is a good point. For one thing, it tends to prove my hunch that Weiner's communications with the girl are, as I keep suggesting, flirty, familiar, and friendly.

It's not that I'm saying "Oooh, he said a dirty word!" You do not get kicked out of Congress for saying the word "shit."

No, it's the context here. We have a 46-year-old married Congressman who should not be DMing a 17 year old girl who "loves" him in the first place.

But he goes further than merely DMing her. He can't even keep "The Line" strong here. He can't treat her in an arms-length, somewhat standoffish, "Look, I'm a married adult and you're a cute highschool girl so I have to be a little stiffer than I might like" manner.

No, in his DM, he says to her he's "Large" -- and we have seen what he's usually referring to with this; possibly a little wink-wink-nudge-nudge -- and that he's doing his "tights and cape shit."

I've taught high-schoolers. High schoolers really like it when you curse. It's a cheap way to gain a connection. They like it because they like being treated as equals. They get sick of adults behaving, to their minds, oddly and buttoned-up around them. Treating them, basically, as kids.

And when you curse to a class of high-schoolers, even by accident, they dig that.
Not that they're so thrilled to hear a word they've heard 10,000 times before. But because it's not treating them like a kid, like every other adult does.

Well, not every other adult.

Sorry, I always have a suspicion about adults who deliberately cultivate a "friendship among equals" relationship with kids who are kids and therefore not social equals.

So I just have to restate the question I've restated a dozen times: Why is a 46 year old married Congressman treating a 17 year old girl, who is not in fact his equal (she's a kid!), like any of-age woman he might meet for drinks in a DC bar?

It's not appropriate. This girl has a crush on him -- she says she "loves" him again and again in public tweets -- and he's... acting like one of her super-cool popular-clique classmates? Flattering her crush, even as her crush flatters him?

And the New York Times apparently understands this -- because they cut that out of the Tweet. "..." shall stand in for an inappropriately-familiar "shit."

How modest. How very observant of middle-class bourgeois social mores.

Yeah.

Or maybe it's just cleaning up after Weiner.

Weiner knew there was a problem here. Even if it was just a matter of perception. Which I don't think it was, but for one brief moment, let's pretend this was only a problem of perception.

PatriotUSA76 and Co. have been maligned for drawing attention to Weiner's odd habit of becoming frivolous friends with young girls. Should they be maligned? Or should they be praised?

I think the latter. This is and was always inappropriate.

And Weiner knew that.

Because, when the #bornfreecrew made an issue of this odd habit of following young girls with which he had nothing in common -- except, of course, for a passionate love of Representative Anthony Weiner -- he did not simply stop following them.

Nor did he, say, write a DM to a girl explaining that he had to be the grown up and stop following them. Look at this suddenly-unearthed DM Weiner wrote to a girl:

Look, I am beyond flattered by your finding me worthy of affection, but the fact is the fact, I'm a married 46 year old Congressman and you're a young girl. While I will always be flattered that you say such wonderful things about me, I have to stop following you or communicating with you, except maybe for a public tweet. I'm sorry, it's simply too dicey a situation, and I don't think it's fair to communicate with a girl who has a crush on me -- it just feeds the crush and winds up hurting more. But good luck in all your endeavors -- I know you'll be great -- and thank you for supporting me.

Oh wait, that isn't a recently-unearthed DM; that's just something I made up. That's what someone should say when confronted with this situation.

Did Weiner say anything like that? Well, based on the girl's tweets, um, no. Based on the girl's tweets, he just told her to keep it quiet.

We don't have perfect evidence here-- we know that by May 25 Weiner was following her again, but we don't have screenshots of his May 13-15 follow list (that I know of) to demonstrate that he followed her at this time.

It seems likely to me, though, that he did follow her about this time, or inform her he would follow her again, if she could "keep [her] mouth shut."

It's an uncomfortable situation when an older man realizes a much younger girl has a crush on him. It's a tough thing. Embarrassment and crying will probably result, and, even before that, it's just... uncomfortable.

But there are two possible responses to this situation:

1. "You can't have a crush on me! You're a young girl, and you can have anyone. I'm an old man. This isn't appropriate; you need to like boys your own age. And I have to stop following you. I'm terribly flattered, but this just isn't a good situation for either one of us."

Or...

2. "Keep your mouth shut, publicly, about having a crush on me and I'll follow you again."

We know which Weiner chose.

Why did he choose 2?

I think because he just really, really likes having the validation of young girls telling him how awesome he is.

As I previously wrote:

But now she says she "loves" him. And he does enjoy the validation of infatuated women.

Who doesn't?

But she's not a woman. She's a 17 year old girl. She is, for legal purposes, a child.

In the Manslaughter theory, he never says anything legally actionable in his private communications with her -- and yes, he seems to have had them. Rather, he just enjoys the crush-vibes he gets from her, flattered that a pretty young thing could be in "love" with a still-not-confident-and-mature boy-man like him.

Sure, he deflects away her serious protestations of love, but he doesn't say anything legally actionable. He just... enjoys the flattery of a pretty 17 year old who's in love with him.

Perfectly innocent.

Except it's not innocent. It's not innocent.

Because there is no one reading this right now who, if I were to suggest a similar scenario with an adult just seeking out their daughter's private attention, doing nothing actually illegal but just enjoying the fact the girl had a major league crush on him... well, there would be problems. Real problems.

You don't have to prove someone's a criminal to know he's a creep.

Why is Anthony Weiner having private communications with underage girls clearly infatuated with him at all?

Let's assume it's not Murder. Let's assume he deflected any of these lovesick girl's stronger declarations of affections.

Why was he contacting them?

To talk politics? To talk shop? To ask a 17 year old girl, "What do you think we should do to back the Republicans off their debt-limit no-negotiation stance"?

Or to engage in some creepy, weird indulgence in the crush-vibes of that girl?

There's no crime in the Manslaughter theory, but there is serious offense.

...

You don't have to think something criminal happened here to say that a 46 year old man should not be seeking this type of "frivolity" and romantic validation from a starstruck 17 year old girl.

Just perfectly innocent. A married 46 year old Congressman private messaging a smitten, hero-worshipping, bad-girl-talking 17 year old girl who "loved" him.

What could be more innocent than that?

BTW: Quick story. I was tutoring a 16 year old girl once for the SAT's. I don't know how old I was. Maybe 21? Round that age?

I'd walked to her house to tutor because she was a neighbor. Like four blocks away.

One day she insisted on giving me a ride home. Not necessary, but the client is always right.

Anyway, in what should have been a three minute car ride that she took the scenic route to make it ten, she told me I had to meet some of her friends, and there was a party coming up this weekend where her friends would be; would I like to come with her?

So... okay, seems like a Don't Stand So Close To Me Crush.

Very flattering.

Point is, she offered to give me a ride home multiple times after that, and I deflected by saying "No, it's a nice night, I need the exercise." Also cut short any and all attempts to derail the tutoring session into familiar conversations.

I got standoffish, and probably, to her mind, rude, but what are you going to do? If something is inappropriate, you can either do the full-on uncomfortable "Please don't have a crush on me," or you can at least assume the standoffish, borderline rude Let's Keep This Professional posture.

Or, you can do what Weiner seems to have done: Encourage the crush by acting like the girl's super-cool popular-clique classmate, and then just tell her "Keep this quiet."


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posted by Ace at 12:19 PM

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