Monday, June 20, 2011

Did Rep. Weiner resign, or just hit the political pause button?

AP Photo via Yahoo! Shine
We want them to be regular people—hockey moms and Joe the Plumber, people we'd feel comfortable grabbing a beer with or who can relate to the frustrations of the school carpool line. But then they show us their flaws and we feel betrayed. They're no longer fit for public office, even though their transgressions don't necessarily have much to do with their ability to govern.

Why do we put politicians up on pedestals?

Last week, I wrote about Rep. Anthony Weiner and his resignation from Congress. Or, really, his pseudo-resignation. Because after watching the four-minute-long press conference and studying his speech, to me it sounds more like he's hitting a political pause button than bowing out of politics forever.

"I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused," Weiner said on Thursday, speaking from the same senior center in Brooklyn where he launched his campaign for City Council 20 years ago. "I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents but I make it particularly to my wife Huma."

"I had hoped to be able to continue the work that my constituents elected me to do—to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it," he continued. "Unfortunately, the distraction that I myself have created has made that impossible. So today I'm announcing my resignation from Congress."

"The middle class story of New York is my story, and I’m very proud of that," he told the crowd. "I got into politics to help give voice to the many who simply did not have one. Now I’ll be looking for other ways to contribute my talents to make sure that we live up to that most New York and American of ideals."

Morality and power have never gone hand-in-hand (not even when they should: witness the entire pedophile priest scandal that rocked the Catholic church). But if both parties are consenting adults, and no laws were broken, should it even matter?

In this case, I think it does. Weiner's ridiculous Twitter shots aren't the real issue; as with Sarah Palin and her youngest son's parentage, what matters is that a person holding public office was willing to go to great lengths to cover up what may be an embarrassing truth.

Read the entire story, "Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns. Is his political career permanently compromised?" at Yahoo! Shine.

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