So here’s mine. The man behind a million dick puns announced today – to heckling, which seems almost mandatory – that he is resigning from his post. It was inevitable from the moment he lied about his account being hacked, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. Before I explain why, let’s look at another recent political sex “scandal” and see how the results differed: http://blog.nola.com/times-picayune/2007/07/senate_leader_wants_airing_of.html
To sum it up: Vitter apparently used the services of the “DC Madam” while he was married. He apparently cheated on his wife and did so in a fashion that broke the law, by hiring a prostitute. He admitted to “serious sins” and said the matter was between he and his wife, a statement with which I agree. According to some reports he made calls to the madam from his Senate office, which technically would involve his elected job with the scandal. And yet, he didn’t leave office and was reelected after the scandal hit.
Meanwhile, people are saying there is no way Weiner should have stayed in office and if he had, people would have been nuts to reelect him.
Why is there a difference in the results of these two scandals?
First, the Vitter scandal presents an interesting reversal. Before I read up on it, the name Vitter meant nothing to me. Part of that is due to my selective memory, but part of it is also because the mainstream media didn’t make this a story of the magnitude of Weiner’s weiner. It made a small splash and then the waters calmed.
And yet, Weiner will probably never hold another office. Why?
Part of it is the differences in the scandals. Weiner was sending his junk pics to many women, which indicates a certain chutzpah the Vitter case lacks: seeing a prostitute is more benign than actively trolling hot babes. Most Americans don’t like arrogance.
A big difference is that Vitter, while not saying what he did, never actively denied wrongdoing or tried to shift blame. He sorta fessed up and then shut up. Weiner lied about his account being hacked and his lies were full of holes; everybody knew the axe was coming. He was a man caught doing something that will do possibly irreparable damage to his marriage and he went with his first reaction, which was to lie about it. I won’t defend those lies; without them this scandal might have been much smaller, but probably not. Combine his arrogance on the floor of Congress with the lewd nature of his offenses, and he painted a huge target on his chest (or just below his waist [or slightly above it, if he was…well, you know]). The lies led to questioning his judgment; it appears that Vitter missed similar judgment.
Let’s look at that last reason again. Weiner wasn’t a typical democrat. He was brash and mouthy and refused to be cowed. He was entertaining and he was made for youtube clips. He was a rising star in the party, and the republicans certainly wanted to take him down. He gave them all the ammo they needed.
One factor people seem to be overlooking is how much his name hurt him. Yes, what he did was bad enough. However, having somebody named Weiner in a sex scandal is just too rich to pass up. The double entendres write themselves:
Weiner Backs Out, Can’t Handle the Heat
Weiner Makes a Mess
Weiner Can’t be Trusted
…and so on. His name certainly gave this extra mileage. Ten years from now, if he has never tried to be reelected and has avoided the spotlight, even the mention of his name will bring back the memories of what happened. I understand that; like most other people I’ve enjoyed making the Weiner jokes.
So, the next time you think about wiener, try not to think about Weiner. It’ll be hard, but you can do it. Maybe.