Playing the blame game with Anthony Weiner this week became wildly popular.
Once the Congressman refused to stick it out any longer, punditry tried to erect a whole series of straw man reasons, both for blame or justification, arguing that Weiner was treated with a double standard. Viewing Weiner's resignation as either unnecessary or unjust, the opinion class claimed that he either wasn't as bad as other examples, or that he had done nothing illegal--therefore his punishment was far more exacting than his crime.
While some of this is true, it still matters not. Anthony Weiner made his own decision to resign, it was an appropriate decision and the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Rachel Maddow both need to think through their positions on this a bit better.
For the seemingly 5017th & 5018th times, since the climax of this scandal both hosts felt the need to invoke, once again, the name of David Vitter. Claiming Vitter's sexual scandal a double standard to Weiner's. O'Reilly went as far as to label it, "much worse" than the transgressions of Weiner. Maddow implied double standards as some sort of castigation against the GOP.
But the long story short, David Vitter and Anthony Weiner, are two very different men--with wildly different scandals.
The only reason the public ever knew about Vitter's scandal was due to the fact that Hustler magazine had Vitter's name on a hit list of sorts and his number turned up in a DC Madame's black book. Hustler's intention was to mar the public name of the Senator that had dealt extensively with family values issues, and had run at the endorsement of family value's organization on the federal and state levels.
The reason the public knew about Weiner, was because he took pictures of his sexual organs and transmitted them to the public, and in a yet-to-be-legally-determined manner of possible sexual harassment to women he cruised his twitter feed for. He then lied wildly about it. He also wasted broadcaster's and journalist's efforts in granting interviews in which hid the growing truth.
When contrition came for both men the circumstances were wildly different as well. Vitter had confessed to his wife, members of his church, and others of his behavior years previous to the revelation. At the time his wife made a specific decision to approach her relationship with her husband as "not holding natural consequences against him as the offender." In modern terms this is called forgiveness. But the point is that the issue was resolved long before it became known.
When contrition came for Weiner, he telephoned his wife moments before to let her know that he had lied and that he was going to tell the world. She has been largely on the road of international travel with her boss Hillary Clinton and the two have barely had time to discuss the matter.
Both did decide to stay in their jobs initially, but no doubt one of the biggest reasons was the fact that the American people felt they got a straight story from Vitter, and everyone felt there was much Weiner had not 'fessed up to.
Maddow attempted to blame Weiner's series of horrifically bad decisions on the media. An institution she proudly participates in, in a strongly partisan fashion, every week night. But asserting this is utterly contemptible on its merits.
I'm no fan of the media, but working in it, I understand the concerns and worries. Ten days of lies, on top of an arrogant presumption that his job was still in tact - showed not just poor taste, but unacceptable judgement.
O'Reilly attempted to argue that Clinton and Vitter both did far worse in office. And from a legal standpoint he's right about Clinton. Vitter's crimes were outside the window of prosecution.
But O'Reilly and Maddow are both severely misguided, because Weiner's offense wasn't that he didn't do anything "illegal." Instead his crime was the belief that he could show such disrespect to the office.
Men who have private affairs do far less damage to the House of Representatives than those who shoot pictures of themselves holding their "handlebar" in shots of the "members only" locker-room.
Dignity would not allow a House member to parade through Congress in his Calvin Kleins. Weiner didn't come to the chamber in his skivvies, but every lap-top, every House office, every House intern and page saw the pictures that the Congressman purposefully posed, shot, tweeted, facebooked, and emailed.
That is unstable behavior, but it is disrespectful behavior to the office, and thus his constituents.
And though O'Reilly and Maddow may wish to draw comparisons, neither Vitter nor Clinton's sins came close.
Which is highly ironic considering the observations of Ellis Henican on the left, and Jonah Goldberg on the right--he didn't even "get any."
Weiner's disgrace, Weiner's decision. And he got it right when O'Reilly and Maddow did not.