It was the shot seen ’round the world.
As we all know by now, Congressman Anthony Weiner confirmed yesterday during a teary-eyed press conference that the crotch shot published to his Twitter account was not the result of hacking, but of his own virtual trysts with female fans accidentally made public. The questions lingering in the wake of his announcement are whether he’ll resign (he said he won’t), whether he used public funds or government resources in his relationships with these women or in the ensuing cover-up (he said he didn’t), and whether his wife will leave him (he said she won’t).
But enough about what Weiner said about Weiner. What does he know, anyway? What are other people not at all connected to the situation saying?
Jack Shafer, Slate’s media critic, was a little miffed with another iteration of politicians thinking copious apologies are what will shut the press up, and further worried that maybe some of his apologies weren’t the most sincere:
I’m less judgmental about the “sin” that Weiner confessed to this afternoon, of sexting his junk or his chest shots to six women over three years. If you’re as old as Weiner (46) and have never done something naughty but still legal, you’re probably immune to the power of human desire, have no sense of fantasy, and have been living in a locked veal cage in a convent basement. You don’t have to be a libertine to not care about a politician’s kinks, as long as those kinks don’t get in the way of his job.
The most painful apology that Weiner appears to have tendered at his press conference was not to his wife, his family, his staff, or his constituents, all of whom were subjects of his contrition, but the one he gave to Andrew Breitbart after reporters kept hounding him for one. When he said, “I apologize to Andrew Breitbart,” I smelled a lie.
Conversely, over at the New York Times, Op-Ed contributor Ross Douthat, thinks a contrite politician makes a better politician. He thinks Weiner could come out of this a better statesman than ever. However, saying your sorry is not enough. One has to pay for their misdeeds:
He didn’t resign. And this, to me, is the dealbreaker. A confession is just words, so much sound and fury, without an act of contrition, and the act of contrition appropriate to Weiner’s offenses is the resignation of his office. When there are real consequences for a shameful act, there can be a second chance — but the whole idea of a second chance implies that you’ve given up your first one.
Over at Huffington Post, psychologist Michael Bader calls the whole fiasco “bullshit,” and doesn’t lay an ounce of blame on the congressman. Being a psychologist, naturally the problem is with all of us, and our desire to watch the mighty fall, particularly over naughty photos, so we can judge the hell out of them:
The problem we face is that we do stuff all the time that probably doesn’t reflect our best judgment, or feels somewhat compulsive, or self-destructive, or involves forbidden longings, fantasies, and needs, and that we not infrequently dissemble, lie, and rationalize in order not to face them or have them discovered by others. It’s not a comfortable part of being human but it does seem to come with the territory. But one thing we all know for sure: we’d rather be the judger than the judgee. We’d rather have the high ground than the low.
Meanwhile, his local Democratic colleagues are similarly pointing out that the mistake was human error:
“You’ve got to feel for the guy,” said Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Mill Basin), a staunch ally of the congressman. “All we learned today was that Anthony Weiner is human and subject to the same frailties. Americans are very good at finding forgiveness for those who ’fess up and tell the truth.”
Flatbush Democratic District Leader Jacob Gold said Weiner was guilty only of was “youthful exuberance.”
“This isn’t a disqualifying factor,” said Gold. “A year from now, we’re all going to chuckle about this. Weiner’s a hard-driving, hard-working congressman — and that hasn’t changed. If this is the only misstep he’s made, then he’s a fortunate man.”
At least three of the six women he said he’s been in contact with have come forward, explaining to the big bastions of journalism, like TMZ and BigGovernment, what happened on their end. Unfortunately for Weiner, it’s likely to open a whole new bag of worms: the congressman may have done at least some of his “human” activities during company time.
Meagan Broussard – the recipient of the infamous crotch shot – told BigGovernment:
At first I was skeptical that I was really talking to Rep. Weiner, so I asked him to take a picture of himself, which he did. Then I asked him to pick up the phone and call me. I had to hang up because of something that was happening on my end, but then I called back and heard a voice saying, “Congressman Anthony Weiner’s office,” so I hung up. He asked me if I was satisfied, and I guess I was–I didn’t pursue that any more.
During the cover-up, Weiner may have offered one of the ladies – a former porn star – some PR help from his congressional staff:
On June 2, Weiner emailed [Ginger] Lee, “Do you need to talk to a professional PR type person to give u advice? I can have someone on my team call. [Yeah, my team is doing great. Ugh].”
It’s unclear if Weiner’s PR team is from his Congressional staff. If so, Weiner could run afoul of House Ethics Rules as well as the law.
Weiner put on a full court press, urging Lee to lie about their relationship. On June 1, he emailed her: “The key is to have a short, thought out statement that tackles the top line questions and then refer people back to it. Have a couple of iterations of: ‘This is silly. Like so many others, I follow Rep. Weiner on Twitter. I don’t know him and have never met him. He briefly followed me and sent me a dm saying thank you for the follow. That’s it.'”
Weiner suggested a nice touch — some good ol’ Southern charm: “And then maybe insert some y’alls in there.”
The Hollywood Gossip is also saying Weiner used congressional phones to chat with Lisa Weiss, another of his online mistresses:
The casino worker also claimed that she had steamy phone sex with the six-term Congressman on a U.S. Government phone.
Said Weiss: “After a while I said to Anthony, ‘Why are writing these messages when we can just speak?’ I gave him my number and he called me from his office and we proceeded to talk dirty for at least 30 minutes.”
“A few days later, I tried to call him back on that number. But the number wouldn’t connect to his office; instead there was a recorded message stating that it was an outgoing U.S. Congress line only.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg, who Weiner had hoped to succeed in the 2012 mayoral election, is saying that any pressure to get the man to resign is undue, since voters are well aware of what’s going on:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday, “It’s hard to believe, given the coverage that all of the press has given this situation, that any voters in his district aren’t familiar with the situation, what happened, whatever, and they will have an opportunity to express themselves in one year and four months from now. In the meantime, you know, I keep saying, this country has lots of very big problems that maybe we should all focus on and Congress should certainly get back to work and focus on.”
Wait a second. Sheepshead Bites’ readers are Weiner’s constituents. Why am I turning to these blowhards for analysis when I can turn to you?
What do you think? Should Weiner resign? Does any of this reflect on his ability to serve the people? Will he be a better statesman if he recovers?