The first thing I saw when I turned the television to MSNBC this morning was a reporter standing in front of a giant electronic prop, which featured the pictures and names of women Anthony Weiner has frolicked with on the internet. Except for the time of day it was like election night, with the massive lit up electoral map of the United States replaced by the graphic history of the internet amours of Anthony Weiner. The Weiner ramifications in all their sober complexity followed for the next hour, with the occasional reference to Angela Merkel or Austin Googlsbee squeezed in at spare moments.
Our long, national nightmare isn’t going to end of course, until something actually happens in the world to change the subject (the looming consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling, our collapsing infrastructure, high unemployment and insidious wealth disparity are not dramatic enough to captivate either the media or the public at large) we’re stuck with this ginned up excuse for a controversy. All the faux moralizing and media hype aside, Weiner essentially was caught being human, in other words acting like us, or most of us at least. He violated our self-created and prevailing myths, so this Kaubki Theater of moralizing and simulated outrage is a ritual that must be allowed to complete its course. We’re in the foreplay stage of his resignation now, working up the requisite pressure to force him out. It’s pretty much a rote theatrical exercise for the media at this point. He can hang in there, which would be my own recommendation in fact, since another attention-grabber is on the way as sure as God made little green LED’s.
A simple glance at America’s entertainment preferences tells you we’re really not at all shocked. Yes, the pundits and reporters and commentators are shocked, shocked I tell you. But the Americans who variously spend 14 billion dollars a year on porn, burn up the wires night and day with internet chat, light up cellular towers with sexting, flock to the gentrified Ashley Madison adultery site or otherwise hook up through the miracle of modern electronic appliances, or send the ratings for various Housewives of Where the Hell Ever through the roof know that they are Anthony Weiner, and Anthony Weiner is them. Hooking up, fantasizing, voyeurism, judgmentalism, and vicarious sinning rolled into one are, rather than baseball as you may have heard, the national pastime.
Generally, when this sort of thing happens to “family values” conservatives, whose running con includes lecturing the rest of us on the high road, pretending to take proprietorship of it while acting like everybody else of course, it’s a little more noteworthy for the hypocrisy level. It’s worth applauding their exposure simply because of the hope that the revelation might get this type of individual to shut the hell up just a little in the future, and perhaps slow the self-righteous, politically motivated hokum. Otherwise, it’s still much ado about little.
The horror here is the media rave-up, every pundit and anchor suddenly doing an Elmer Gantry shtick, temporary holy rollers performing for the collection plate. The sanctimony is a little hard to take coming from a major media that regularly finds ways to draw from tawdry and tabloid sources through a process of scandal laundering (gradually moving the juicy tidbit step by step to more and more “respectable” venues, until the highfalutin’ can say, “We have to cover it now, it was reported in X,Y or Z.” In this case, ABC broke Weiner by getting the goods from Andrew Breitbart, essentially climbing in bed with a hoaxster, liar and clumsy bottom-feeding political dirty trickster in order to have a “story.” For my money, they should be ashamed.
And don’t give me the, “Oh, but we expect more from our elected officials” routine. Why? Our moral standard bearers and models of decorous behavior are politicians? America desperately needs to grow out of its lingering Puritan adolescence, expecting nothing different from government leaders and politicians or athletes or anybody else than we expect from ourselves. As a society, operating with a little more realism is the efficient and mature way to go I believe.
Weiner understood the relative risks of what he was doing in the current media and political environment. And he understood his wife’s likely judgment on his behavior, lax or severe or whatever. Beyond that what’s to talk about? If there’s a redundant lesson here worth taking to heart it’s that absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing is secret or private any longer. Private confidences between human beings continue to be held. But their shelf life is entirely dependent on the reliability, moods, economic circumstances, fleeting allegiances, personal and philosophical idiosyncrasies and perhaps dietary health of each party. Whatever private information you have in whatever database, somebody is waiting to hack , snatch, pass, sell or will eventually stumble upon and disseminate. Good luck!
In the meantime, in the matter of Weinergate, we’re going to have to have more of the insufferable lectures on morality and proper conduct for elected officials and WHAT IT ALL MEANS as we move through the Rolodex of shrinks, PR experts (Yikes!), political consultants, pundits, sexperts, relationship gurus, preachers and once shamed but now redeemed fuck ups…you know, the cream of American intelligentsia.
I’m rooting for a missing, young, blonde female, a celebrity death or high profile and gruesome murder to get us off the dime and on to other business.