In a number of columns over the last few years, I’ve made the point that the heart of virtually all of America’s problems stem from widespread immorality. The seeds of this social downslope were planted in the 1960s, when America’s so-called “social revolution” took place, and two groups of people, lawyers and therapists, supplanted religious figures. As a result, the long-traditional understanding of good and evil has been transformed into debates about legal and illegal, and/or well and unwell. In short, nothing is anyone’s fault anymore. No one exemplifies this transformation better than Anthony Weiner.
I’ll spare you a recap of Tony’s behavior. Within the realm of decency, he’s a low-life of the first order. That’s a basic description, more or less, that those of us not immersed in the nuances of modern-day thinking would consider apropos. Yet it is precisely those nuances that will haunt this nation for as long as they are taken seriously.
After Weiner realized the facts in his particular case had reached critical mass—as in, the evidence against him was no longer confined to that produced by Andrew Breitbart and the disgraced lawmaker’s lying could no longer be sustained—what was his first fallback position?
He had done nothing “illegal.”
The strategy here was that this characterization was, as it has been said before, “boob bait for the masses,” and to a large extent it was successful. As soon as Weiner offered this up, the foot soldiers of progressive thinking rallied to his side. According to a Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and NY1 survey, 73% of the people in his district said his actions were “unethical, but not illegal.” And 56% said he shouldn’t resign.
And the boobery wasn’t limited to his district. High-profile leftists, many of whom were forced to eat a heaping helping of crow for believing his lies initially, were nonetheless willing to fall on their swords a second time to defend the indefensible. They were led by the dimmest of dim-bulb celebrities such as Barbara Walters, Janeane Garofalo and Alec Baldwin, who characterized Weiner’s actions, I kid you not, with the following excuses:
Walters: “My theory is he is married to this beautiful woman whom I know is the—who a lot of us know is the chief of staff to Hillary Clinton and she travels a lot, and it may be that he took that picture and sent it to his wife to say this is how much I miss you.”
Garofalo: “[The media coverage of the scandal is] not his fault. … I would say the distraction that’s created is by a media that’s overly obsessed with this stuff because it’s easier than doing the hard stuff of their job … if the media and the hypocrite Republicans didn’t keep this going, pretending the American people want it, it wouldn’t be something you have to discuss with, and I’m sure you don’t discuss Anthony Weiner with your kids at the table anyway, even before this.”
Baldwin: “For high-functioning men like Weiner and other officials who have lived through such scandals, who are constantly on the go, [sexting] leaves one a tried-and-true source of a reliable high. The affirmation that comes when someone lets you know they want to sleep with you. Or even cyber-sleep with you.”
These geniuses were buttressed by members of the Democratic Party, whose reflexive reactions were similar. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially declined to ask for his resignation, saying it’s up to the people of his district. And then there was ethical stalwart in his own right Rep. Charles Rangel (D.-N.Y.): “I know one thing: He wasn’t going out with prostitutes, he wasn’t going out with little boys, he wasn’t going into men’s rooms with broad stances,” said Charlie, comparing Weiner’s troubles to those involving scandalized Republicans—Sen. David Vitter, Rep. Mark Foley and Sen. Larry Craig.
In fairness, with the exception of Rangel, these remarks were made prior to the revelations that Weiner had been texting underage girls, and that some of the pictures he took show the House member’s gym in the background, possibly undercutting the “nothing Weiner did was illegal” argument.
Furthermore, of the above-mentioned congressmen, Sen David Vitter remains in Washington, D.C., despite his dalliances with prostitutes, proving that corruption, a lack of class and voter stupidity (he was reelected after the scandal) is a bipartisan affliction.
Which brings us to afflictions, per se. The therapeutic community is the other part of the equation that has kicked common sense and common decency to the curb in pursuit of a more “enlightened” understanding of human behavior. Thus, as if on cue, Weiner has announced that he will not resign, but take a leave of absence and check himself into rehab.
“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said a statement issued from Weiner’s office. “In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.”
Not good. Well.
The distinction is crucial. In modern-day America, Anthony Weiner is not some out-of-control horndog with an oversized ego. He is a “sexual addict” exhibiting “narcissistic tendencies,” all of which can be “addressed” by some sort of therapy. Robert Weiss, founding director of the Sexual Recovery Institute, uses the kind of language that now serves as a substitute for my obviously pre-enlightened description of people such as Anthony:
“[F]or those people either challenged by an underdeveloped emotional life, one out of balance with their intellect, or for those under extreme emotional or other more external stressors, emotional decision-making can and will predominate … powerful, overly stressed-out intelligent, intimacy-challenged people who don’t necessarily intend to cheat, sext, have affairs, lie and manipulate can ‘find’ themselves getting into impulsive and sexually addicted behaviors as an attempt to emotionally self-medicate and to feed themselves spiritually. These are not the unfortunate choices of bad people or decisions made due to low intellect or a lack of understanding of the potential consequences.”
Beats the hell out of “I’ve been a rotten person,” doesn’t it? And who could have imagined that, before the emergence of such thinking, a married guy e-mailing pictures of his schwangy accompanied by hot talk to hot babes could be construed as “self-medication?” Weiss attributes such behavior to the idea that one’s “intellectual ability and emotional development often run on differing, sometimes conflicting, tracks.” In other words, it’s not evil that drives people, it’s nothing more than a lack of synchronicity, with the heart and head—and perhaps other parts of one’s anatomy—on different train schedules.
No doubt Weiss and countless others like him can put Anthony back on the right track, as it were, given sufficient time and, I’m guessing, more than sufficient fees for doing so. Unlike confession, both litigation and therapy cost considerable sums of money for the “redemption” they provide. No doubt the latter will be paid for by Weiner’s congressional health plan, which as most Americans know, is as good, if I may use that word, as it gets.
Anthony Weiner? Not so much.
But saying so these days may be a bridge too far. Nonjudgmentalism accompanies litigation and therapy as day accompanies night, and those who cling to quaint notions of good and evil are viewed with increasing amounts of suspicion in the new America. “Anything goes” is the order of the day in a society where it seems like being rotten and finding redemption is better than not being rotten at all. It is not hard to wonder how much larger my profile as a writer would be with one good scandal, followed by some therapy or litigation, righting my personal ship.
All of it well-publicized, of course.
As for Democrats suddenly calling en masse for Weiner’s resignation, don’t think for a second an attack of conscience was the motivator. Think being labeled the “Party of Weiner” heading into the 2012 election. Washington, D.C., long ago abandoned any pretense of morality, except during campaign season.
As for Weiner, I’ll stand by a prediction I made in a column for another venue. He’s a goner, not because of what he did, but who he is: the former, stand-in-front-of-the-camera-and-pontificate, high-profile point man for the Democrat party. Some guys can sit in the back of the political bus, toiling in relative obscurity.
Anthony Weiner isn’t one of them.