Paul Greenberg

By now the sight of Anthony Weiner, M.C., whether clothed or un-, has become both bore and annoyance. Much like the spectacle of Bill Clinton lying his way ever deeper into L'Affaire Lewinsky years ago. This vanity, too, will pass and the sun hasten to the place where it arose. Just please let it happen soon.

There are some scandals that ladies and gentlemen pass over in adult silence. It is enough to duly record them and then, for mercy's sake, just go on. What's the point of dwelling on them except perhaps as a cautionary tale? Doesn't our society have enough sleaze to sift through on television?

Yes, if the man had any sense of honor, he'd resign. But his lack of one now has been firmly established. By no less an authority than himself. Why not just leave him to Heaven? Or to the Hell that unceasing public attention can be. He's scarcely worth making an example of.

But will the omnipresent media let us ignore him? Because more acts await in this disheartening drama. For example, the House Ethics Committee will have to investigate -- if only for form's sake. It's not a pleasant job, but somebody has to do it. Then could we please not mention the subject again, at least on the front page?

After all, Mr. Weiner's scandalous behavior was private -- and how he must wish it had stayed so! -- but he doesn't seem to have broken any law.

Yes, he seems to have lied to everybody in sight and out of it before he fessed up as it became harder and harder to hide the truth. But if his sad behavior showed contempt for anybody who ever respected him, he didn't show contempt for the law he swore to uphold. At least he never testified falsely under oath. That crucial, stupid mistake and sin he had enough sense, or at least luck, not to commit. He may be guilty of conduct unbecoming a gentleman, not to mention general tastelessness, but that's scarcely a criminal offense.

My recommendation: Enough already. Leave him to the tender mercies of his fellow New Yorkers. What more condign punishment could one wish upon him?

After all, he is their representative. And if they decide to keep him, that'll be their problem. I'm just hoping the rest of us can write -30- to this whole story.

------

Mr. Weiner's isn't the only creepy act in this socio-political freak show.

There's the scandalmonger who exposed him, literally: Andrew Breitbart. He's all too well-known, at least to Shirley Sherrod. Remember her? Ms. Sherrod lost her job with the Department of Agriculture after her racial views were misrepresented -- whether by Mr. Breitbart, Glenn Beck or the secretary of agriculture remains a matter of some dispute and, America being America, of litigation. But that's a whole other sad story. For now Mr. Breitbart claims to have been vindicated by the outcome of L'Affaire Weiner. Messy thing, vindication. It can make you want to wash your hands afterward.

But get this: Blogger Breitbart claims he's holding back one dirty picture in his sizable collection out of consideration for the congressman's family.

That's nice. But he also claims he's holding the picture as "insurance" lest the congressman give him any more trouble. So much for our hero's tender regard for family values when pressed.

Would you call Brother Breitbart's shtick journalism or blackmail, or both? We report, you decide. What's clear is that these characters, both the congressman and his pursuer, deserve each other. It wouldn't be the first time respectable journalism, if that's not an oxymoron, was well served by less than respectable types.

(Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. His e-mail address is pgreenberg@arkansasonline.com.)


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.