This weekend's breaking stories about the alleged online improprieties of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) are the latest highlight reel on a long-standing game that has been played in national politics.
For those who may be living in an even tighter bubble than I am, Weiner is purported to have attempted to send – via direct message on Twitter – a picture of his semi-upright Mini Me (albeit under the cloak of his boxer-style briefs) to a college coed in the Seattle area.
An amusingly appropriate (or, inappropriate) #Weinergate hashtag has inspired an enormous load of 140-character commentaries on the swelling topic of interest.
The fact remains, however, that Weiner is just one more in a growing circle of jerks among the American political class.
Actually, if you briefly snake your way through the political history of the last 20 years, it’s not hard to recognize the slow-growing score between high-profile players of the two major parties.
Up until the last few days, the Democrats held a bulging 5-3 advantage in the box score. This weekend, Mr. Weiner managed to stiffen-up this particular unwelcome advance in the competition by inching the score one closer to being knotted-up.
Let's review the swelling list of contemporary, high-profile unfaithful – starting in chronological order.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) became the Left's first trophy by fooling-around on not one but two of his then-wives (he’s on wife No. 3 at the moment) – the affair behind his first wife’s back taking place even while she was hospitalized to have a benign tumor removed.
Former President Bill Clinton scored on the GOP's behalf by handling pork-laden legislation in the Oval Office with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Democrat Gary Condit, the erstwhile representative from Fresno, was known first for being a Blue Dog and then turning other parts of him blue with one of his staffers ten years ago.
Larry Craig proved to be possibly the most amusing instances of the swelling congressional members who have been unfaithful. The now-former representative from Idaho was arrested in Minnesota several years ago for trying to solicit some fun-on-the-fly at an airport men's room. What’s exceptionally interesting is the fact Craig had been one of the Republicans’ leading opponents of gay rights.
The following year, Eliot Spitzer, then governor of New York (previously the state's attorney general) proved to be the most pragmatic of the lot by simply keeping the local high-dollar call-girl registry on his speed dial. By the sound of things in the media, there was no shortage of dialing going on outside of Albany.
Two years ago, then-Governor of South Carolina Mark Sanford followed the bursting of the housing bubble by bursting the GOP's "rising star bubble." Sanford had quickly risen in prominence by fighting a federal mandate to accept Stimulus money through President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Soon after, it was revealed he had been pursuing his own stimulus through the benefits of a "friend" in Argentina.
A once-obscure (now former) representative named Chris Lee (R-NY) popped the cork on 2011's headlines of hedonism by becoming the first of a threesome of politicians to have news of their improprieties shoot all over the nation. Lee was caught attempting to hook-up with a woman via Craigslist, going so far as to send her a teenage-esque camera-phone picture of himself flexing shirtless in front of a mirror.
It's since been alleged he also pursued transgendered regulars of Craigslist. Perhaps he likes to find the same qualities in his illicit sex partners that he prefers in his doubles-tennis partners: experience players with the physical attributes to swing both directions.
Several short weeks ago as we all know, California's outgoing governor Arnold Schwarzenegger aroused new laughs as revelations of a 10-year-old love-child with one of his housekeepers splashed everywhere – revealing he had gone from the Governator to the Fornicator.
Representative Weiner now becomes the new tip of the spear.
As far as so-called scandals go, his story of sexual impropriety is actually fairly lame. What we have is a newlywed inserting himself into a midlife crisis that allegedly involves sexting a gal half his age – using a soft-core digital picture that would seem to say, "I'm kinda happy to see you."
Let's face it: the eye of this political storm centers on the social media equivalent of IHOP’s "pig in a blanket." Anthony Weiner is a veritable Steve Urkel among a collection of Joey Tribbianis.
Also, what separates Weiner – and his fellow camera-happy counterpart Lee – from the rest of the crowd is the fact with Newt, Slick Willy, Condit, Spitzer, Sanford, and Arnie we know they at least were getting some on the road to public shame and embarrassment. With Craig we are left to presume he must have got some previously since when he found himself in the grips of law enforcement it appeared he’d had plenty of practice at that handicraft.
Lee and Weiner, on the other hand, basically got caught trolling for hoes on the Internet – so not worth it, as I'm sure hindsight has illuminated for them by now.
All adolescent double entendres aside at this point, it is quite obvious (to me, at least) the fervor with which so many on the right have pounced on the New York Democrat's indignity is in response to the back-to-back embarrassments caused by Schwarzenegger and Lee to the GOP this year. The right had been jonesing for someone to rake over the coals of public opinion so they could regain some token, meaningless moral-high-ground points.
It honestly should go without saying that the next question on this matter is, "Does anyone, anywhere, anymore really believe there isn't a widespread, across-the-board character deficit in the greasy world of politics?"
As we can plainly see by the list above of revisited infidelities, there is nothing at all remarkable about Anthony Weiner. He is little more than the Dirt-Bag du Jour.
The majority of the focus on his willy-nilly cyber adventures is due to the fact he has been on a public campaign of righteous indignation over the last year that has had little to directly do either with his party's policies while they held across-the-board power in Washington or the DNC's platform.
Like it or not, Weiner should not be surprised by the conservative feeding frenzy. He invited much of it upon himself with his own accusatory finger.