Anthony Weiner And The Politics Of Self-Destruction


[Illustration by ALEX FINE]

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Rep. Anthony Weiner finally began considering Sunday the possibility that he may have to resign, as yet another cache of embarrassing photos appeared. A source close to the congressman told the Daily News that he had been adamant about keeping his seat – even amid daily new revelations of his reckless sexting. But the unrelenting media coverage, the demands from his party’s leaders that he step down and the appearance of more humiliating photos made Weiner realize he may not be able to bull his way through the crisis after all, the source said. TMZ published a new slew of squirm-inducing self-portraits, apparently taken in the House gym – some clothed, some not. Several show Weiner showing off his naked body holding only his camera and his privates. In others, he is clothed or draped in a white towel, flexing his muscles as he holds a camera up to his reflection in a locker room mirror. MORE

DAILY KOS: Whether one wanted the congressman destroyed or vindicated, that his personal life became a major media event was yet another example of what is so wrong with both our political system and our mass media. Anthony Weiner’s personal life is not our business. Those now feeling betrayed because “he lied to us” need ask themselves why they felt justified in wanting to know about his personal life in the first place. Certainly, Weiner handled the story as poorly as can be imagined, but there too what matters is not the facts of his personal behavior but that his personal behavior became a story. As the story continues to play out it becomes even more clear that Weiner’s best response to the initial reports would have been to tell reporters that his personal life is personal, and that other than his wife nobody has any right to ask or know anything about it. Even had the allegations been false, his best response would have been to tell reporters that his personal life is personal, and that other than his wife nobody has any right to ask or know anything about it. More than a decade after the national disgrace that was the impeachment of a president for lying about his personal behavior, the politics of personal destruction continues to thrive on both sides of the aisle, by supporters of both sides of the aisle. Indeed, even as Weiner’s stereotypical public confession was still echoing around the shrill mass media, some progressives already were excitedly promoting allegations about the personal behavior of a leading Republican, as if two wallows in the mire make one clean. We cannot change the behavior of public officials. We cannot make any immediate impact on the behavior of the corporatist media. We cannot stop right-wing assholes from being assholes. We can change our own behavior. The mud must stop here. It seems easy to feel happy when right-wing demagogues are hoist on their own political petards, but it shouldn’t be. Every time it happens, innocent people get hurt. Relatives. Friends. Spouses. Children. Some claim that it’s the hypocrisy that matters, but it isn’t. Right-wing attempts to suppress and repress the personal behavior of all manner of innocents are not wrong because they are hypocritical, they are wrong because they are about suppression and repression, and often also about bigotry. MORE

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