Belmont Club

Down the Up Staircase

Chris Matthews argues that the biggest problem that Anthony Weiner presents is he’s a hard sell to narrow minded voters. “If [Weiner] stays, [Democrats] never get the leadership [in the House] back. They never get the speakership back. Because the people in the rural areas of this country who are Christian, conservative, culturally – you can say ‘backward’ if you want – they don’t like this stuff.” But should they?  The pundit “Zombie” argues that anyone who espouses principles is open to the charge of hypocrisy by failing to live up to them. Principles are a handicap. The best course is not to have any principles at all. Then you can be courageously honest.

The question of honesty has assumed a little more relevance with news reports that Weiner sent 5 private Twitter messages to a 17 year old girl. The New York Times quoted a Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller as saying that “according to Congressman Weiner, his communications with this person were neither explicit nor indecent”. Not that anyone should ask. Feminist Amanda Marcotte said that the worst thing about the scandal wasn’t any of Weiner’s acts. It was taking notice of them. The real crime was “the total obliteration of sexual privacy by ideologues Like Andrew Breitbart”.

Weiner has an outstanding record supporting sexual rights of others, with100% ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood,and has a strong record of support for gay rights. No laws seem to have been broken, no public trust compromised, no campaign irregularities indicated, and there’s been no suggestion that his flirtations interfered with his ability to do his job. The entire rationale for the scandal is that Weiner isn’t living in accordance with strict social mores regarding monogamy, and that’s it.

In other words, Weiner is being punished for not being a square by culturally backward voters from the boonies, so far in the dark they have to pipe the sunlight in. It’s hypocrisy. Everybody’s bad. But the courageously honest people admit it.

Zombie had this explanatory diagram showing why it’s better not to be a hypocrite, even thought it’s not. It reminded me of a person I knew once whose eyes were baggy from lack of sleep.

“Why can’t you sleep?” I asked.

“There are too many mosquitoes,” was the reply. “So I keep them away with this mosquito coil repellent.”

“Does it work?” For those who’ve never seen it, the gizmo is “a mosquito-repelling incense, usually shaped into a spiral, and typically made from a dried paste of pyrethrum powder. The coil is usually held at the center of the spiral, suspending it in the air, or wedged by two pieces of fireproof nettings to allow continuous smoldering. Burning usually begins at the outer end of the spiral and progresses slowly toward the centre of the spiral, producing a mosquito-repellent smoke.”

“It works very much, but I can’t sleep either because I’m afraid it will start a fire. So I stay awake watching the mosquito coil burn down. I don’t get any sleep, but at least, there are no mosquitoes”.

Similarly, Weiner is a creep, but at least he makes no bones about it.

 

But the argument presents, as the President would say, “a false choice”. Weiner is still a creep and once you’re there, then hypocrisy is a flesh wound. Besides, unless 100% of all persons who espouse high principles are hypocrites, then at least some percentage of them will live up to their ideals. On the other hand a population of blackguards all of who make good on their promises to be villains may live up to your expectations, but the maybe the problems is your expectations.  Imagine yourself being tormented by an armed intruder who announces beforehand that he’s going to rob you.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“At least I’m not a hypocrite.”

“Thank God for that.”

“I see you’re one of those culturally backward people.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet my social betters.

Your social betters await.

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