Look, I'm not going to vote for Anthony Weiner. Apart from the fact that I always regarded him as an empty suit, a guy who said a lot of things I agree with in a very loud voice when he was in Congress but never got much done, I now look at his sex confessionals and think: Anthony, you obviously can't keep this under control, and that's fine -- unless you're applying for a job that will subject you to massive amounts of public scrutiny every time you slip up, thus making it difficult to do that job. You could do all sorts of things with your life that would take you out of the public spotlight. But instead you want this. It's a bad fit.
But I don't think he should drop out of the race. Why? Can't voters process this information and make their own judgments? Isn't that the point of democracy?
The editorial board of The New York Times disagrees with me on that point:
... the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.Yeah, he probably should, for his own sake -- but if he doesn't, it's fine. We're big boys and girls. We can handle it.
More from The Times:
Mr. Weiner ... was forced to revisit the issue on Tuesday, and so were we all. A Web site called The Dirty had another woman's story, another round of sex texts, and another picture of Mr. Weiner's penis. The startling news was that this new episode apparently took place last summer, only a few months before Mr. Weiner was to begin another run at public office."The issue"? This isn't an issue. Stop-and-frisk is an issue. Growing economic inequality is an issue. This is just light entertainment -- or tedium, take your pick. (And no, I'm not going to get into the multiple meanings of the word "issue.")
Also: this was "startling news"? Seriously? You people don't get out much.
A Daily News editorial makes some of the same points. It was apparently written by someone who used to pen cover copy for paperback novels back in the late 1940s:
Weiner's dishonest, impulse-driven psyche is once more stripped as naked as the images of his texted private parts.More:
Weiner must also see that, having built his campaign on deception, he has badly damaged the process of selecting the city's next chief executive.I guess we're simply not capable of sorting these things out for ourselves. Damn democracy!
He needs now to announce, loudly and clearly, that voters should bypass the name of Anthony Weiner, which at this late juncture is locked onto the Democratic primary ballot.
The News editorial eventually tries to turn Weiner's wife into the villain of the piece, or at least the other villain, in an ugly way:
Whatever Abedin's motivations, whether she is drawing on the love she proclaimed for Weiner or speaking out of shared ambition, it is simply wrong for Weiner to exploit a private relationship, about which the public knows nothing, as evidence of his worthiness for public office.Omigod! Abedin has ambition! Burn her!
That Weiner is perfectly willing to take advantage either of Abedin's trust or of a partnership of ambition is perfectly clear from their joint interview with People.
... People published the joint interview in which Abedin sang her husband's praises and posed lovingly for pictures with him and their then six-month old son.
"It took a lot of work to get to where are are today, but I want people to know we're a normal family," Abedin said.
That was false, if not a lie deliberately told.
And how dare a politician "exploit a private relationship, about which the public knows nothing, as evidence of his worthiness for public office"! No politician prior to this has ever claimed a happy marriage as a selling point!
Oh, and my favorite sentence:
Lacking the dignity and discipline that New York deserves in a mayor, Weiner must recognize that his demons have no place in City Hall.Yes, if there's one thing we've always been able to rely on from our mayors here in New York, it's dignity:
The editorial in the New York Post, notably, criticizes Weiner but doesn't call for him to drop out -- possibly because the Post has more respect for the democratic process, but probably because Weiner's continued presence in the race will sell a hell of a lot of papers. Below the Post editorial, I see this:
And here are the top two "Editor's Picks" in the sidebar of the Daily News editorial:
See, this is the thing: many of the media outlets wagging fingers at Weiner make money from "respectable" cheesecake and sideboob and the like. They're trying to get us horny in a socially acceptable way, after which we may turn to our Tumblr porn or Fifty Shades trilogy or whatever floats our boat. So if we shrug off what Weiner's done, or think he can't keep it under control but aren't aghast at the basic impulse, or think it's awful because of what it's done to the individuals directly involved rather than to our democracy or our souls, well, you can't blame us.