NOONAN: WHAT WEINER DID IS WORSE THAN ACTUAL ADULTERY, OR POLITICAL CORRUPTION
Well, most of Washington probably agrees with her, but Peggy Noonan just flat-out says it, elevating it to a moral principle (emphasis added):
Of course he should resign -- or, better, and as a statement, the House should remove him. I speak as a conservative who wishes to conserve. If I were speaking as a Republican I'd say, "By all means keep him, let him taint all your efforts."
But sometimes all of Washington has to put up its hand up like a traffic cop and say no. It has to say: That doesn't go here, it's not acceptable, it's not among the normal human transgressions of back stairs, love affairs and the congressman on the take. This is decadence. It is pornography. We can't let the world, and the young, know it's "politically survivable." Because that will hurt us, not him, and define us, not him. So: enough.
Actual adultery? No big whoop. The economic destruction of this country through sleazy interactions with fat cats? Be my guest. Forward a picture of your unit to a woman not your wife? In that case, all right-thinking people should warm up their pitching arms and grab some stones.
Her point is, of course, that we're corrupting the children. Really? By sexting? We'll give their generation ideas? I think she's confusing teacher and pupil.
I agree with her up to a point: I think, a couple of decades from now, a huge percentage of potential leaders of this nation will be people who, at one time or another in their youth, sent, received, retransmitted, or (probably non-consensually) publicly posted (or, more likely, were the victims of a public posting of) a sexting picture. And though a large percentage of them will have done it, it will still be death to a political career if it can be proven -- or at least it will be if you're female and you're the naked one in the photo. So the pool of available politicians (or at least female politicians) will be limited to those whose teenage years were marked by purity balls, promise rings, and Wholesome Wear. If you think our political class is horrifyingly right-wing and hypocritical now, just wait about twenty or thirty years.
The bulk of Noonan's column concerns Mitt Romney. She thinks he had a good week -- one bit of evidence being his reception at a gathering of campaign contributors:
At a Manhattan fund raiser this week, an organizer said they raised about $200,000, not bad for an hour at the end of a long day of fund raising. The roughly 70 attendees were mostly men in suits. There was no vibration of "I'd walk on burning coals for this guy." More an air of "This is a sound choice." On the other hand, no one was distractedly checking his BlackBerry in the back of the room, as I saw once at a Giuliani event in 2008. He was talking, they were scrolling. That's what we call "a sign."
Hmmm ... I wonder if any of those bored '08 Giuliani supporters were looking at pictures of naked people.
And in case you're wondering, if you go to Peggy Noonan's archived oeuvre, you will search in vain for the names Vitter and Ensign.