Okay…Rep. Weiner’s press conference wasn’t the world’s weirdest—that title still has to go to former Gov. Sanford’s “post-Appalachian hiking” trip presser.
The weirdness was at the front end. When I tuned in the live stream just before 1:00 pm local time, there was Andrew Breitbart, the person who broke the Weiner story, at the podium. And he hung out at the podium answering questions for a long time, leading one reporter to ask via Twitter whether the press had been duped into some sort of Breitbart publicity stunt. The press has developed a partial skepticism of Breitbart, something he earned by breaking previous stories that ended up being dead wrong and based on doctored or misleading videos. You know…the phony ACORN “scandal” and the “Shirley Sherrod is a racist” bullshit.
In this case however…Breitbart got the story pretty much correct.
When Breitbart finished there was a long break before Weiner took the podium.
Weiner fought back the tears as he confessed to and profusely apologized for having inappropriate tweets, emails, and a couple of phone calls with about six women over three years. He made clear that he never met any of them in person and never had sex with them. He met them on Facebook.
Weiner also admitted to lying to everyone about that initial tweet—with the photo of his inflated briefs—which he meant to PM and tweeted instead. The suggestion that his Twitter account had been hacked was a lie, he confessed. He apologized to everyone—his wife, their families, his constituents, the Seattle woman whose life was disrupted by this, his staff (meaning, I believe, his congressional staff), and The Press. Christ…he even apologized to Breitbart.
It took a follow-up question to ask if he would resign. No, he won’t. And then he answered reporter’s questions frankly and earnestly. No…his wife and he were not going to split. Yes, they love each other. Yes, she was disappointed. He admitted to lying about the tweets because he was embarrassed and didn’t want to get caught. And, over and over again, he kept “taking full responsibility” and apologizing.
He also kept pointed out that what he did was stupid. But not illegal. So that was the presser.
I have to say…I am not surprised. Even without surprise, I am a little disappointed in Weiner. That’s why I haven’t had much to say about the scandal, except for having a little fun at Dick Cheney’s expense. Seriously, I cannot get too worked up about flirting via social media. What he did doesn’t arise to much (so to speak…in another sense it raises surprisingly….).
Where I do fault Weiner is…STUPIDITY! Public figures should not flirt via social media. Not because of any legal or even ethical questions. No…because it invites scandal, precisely of the type we have here. So Weiner acted stupidly.
This is the same point I made for former Rep. Christopher Lee, who wasn’t simply engaging in flirting, exactly. Rather, he was trolling for sex via Craigslist using his real name, but claiming to be a lobbyist:
Lying, willingness to break his marriage vows…and sheer stupidity! Seriously…the dude didn’t even change his name and then sends the woman a topless photo of himself. Was he trying to create a public scandal?
Lee’s “activities” should be several orders of magnitude over Weiner’s on the sheer stupidity scale. But given that Weiner kept sending flirtatious tweets after Lee’s insta-resignation raises his stupidity level one order of magnitude below that of Lee.
Somewhere in between them is former Sen. Larry Craig, whose wide stance and toe-tapping turned into disorderly conduct. Stupid.
And then there is the stupidity of Sen. Vitter, whose sexual fantasies involved trans-infantile activities with a hooker, and former Gov. Elliot Spitzer who just liked very high price hookers. These guys were sort of stupid, and they both broke the law. They both left enough clues to get caught. And one of them is a flaming “family values” hypocrite. Oddly, he’s the one still in office.
And then there is the uber-stupidity of former Sen. Ensign and former Sen. Edwards. They had affairs whilst in the public spotlight. They were both busted as “family values” hypocrites. And they both took actions to cover up their scandals that involved large sums of money. Now they are both at risk of doing time for their alleged crimes. And that’s just super-stupid!
But almost nothing tops the stupidity of former Gov. Sanford, whose flirtations (Weiner-magnitude stupidity) via email turned into a full-blown affair (about Craig-level stupidity). So he concocted a story about hiking the Appalachian trail, ditched his security detail, left his car at the Atlanta airport, flew to Argentina, and thought nobody would notice for ten days. That’s Vitter—Spitzer stupid, at least. Oh…and he my have used state money to hook-up with his paramour, money he later reimbursed to the state (near-Ensign—Edwards stupid). It doesn’t look like Sanford is going to jail. But what puts Sanford at the top of the stupid politician stupidity scale was the interviews he gave shortly after his “hiking” trip:
In emotional interviews with the AP over two days, he said he would die “knowing that I had met my soul mate.” […]
Sanford insisted his relationship with Maria Belen Chapur, whom he met at an open air dance spot in Uruguay eight years ago, was more than just sex.
“This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story,” Sanford said. “A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day.”
Too! Much! Information!!!!
In sum…It’s the stupidity, stupid!
So, Weiner…install some Constituent Control and Monitoring Software on your computers, and get back to work.