Rachel Marsden
Democratic New York Congressman Anthony Weiner decided to take some photos of himself minimally burdened by cloth, send them to a few girls he met online, then complain that his phone was hacked when the details dribbled out in the press. After a few days of strident denial, he called a press conference to confess to everything. Weiner has reportedly decided to undertake a treatment program -- presumably the Tiger Woods Slut-Buster program. Can Weiner pull out of this?

There's often a disconnect in these cases between intensity of media attention and outrage among voters. So when the 24/7 cable news media zooms in on Weiner, everything appears much larger than in real life -- kind of like the photos he took of himself. In a classic historical example, Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart dropped out of the 1988 race after the National Enquirer ran a photo of him balancing Donna Rice on his knee on a boat called Monkey Business behind his wife's back, yet polls suggested that a majority of Americans didn't support political disqualification based on adultery and felt the whole affair was overblown.

Often a scandal can be waited out. Viewers will grow tired, ratings will drop, news directors will instruct their staff to move on to other topics. Weiner has the option of simply stiffening up and soldiering on. Whether someone who hits on babes thousands of miles away from behind a computer screen will have the courage to brave it out is another matter.

Another factor that determines the seriousness of a sex scandal is whether or not sex actually took place. Granted we're now in the age of social media where you can be reamed out for infidelity just by posting a compliment on someone's Facebook page or by texting them a sideways smiley, but through all the media hysteria, would it not be prudent to ask if this "sex scandal" actually involves sex? Best I can tell, Weiner only got amorous via a mobile phone and a computer.

Lying when caught typically makes matters worse, as we've seen with both the Weiner affair and the one involving Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Weiner, like Clinton, won't be punished for infidelity, but for having lied about it. In all cases, it's best to just swallow the embarrassment and own it. Come out with the fact that you're insatiable, and would appreciate a little privacy in being so. That's what I like to call the "Berlusconi Defense." The Italian prime minister survived years of "bunga-bunga" orgies and a flamboyantly public sex life simply by making it a non-issue -- until the law did because an underage bunga-bunger crashed the party.

Rachel Marsden

Rachel Marsden is a columnist with Human Events Magazine, and Editor-In-Chief of GrandCentralPolitical News Syndicate.
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