Apr 172013
 

Almost a year ago, I wrote about the Anthony Weiner scandal.

In the last week, Weiner has been in the news again as he attempts a public reemergence and rehabilitation. In the coverage, I’ve been struck by one point that I haven’t seen anywhere, but that seems to me the key to understanding whether politicians can survive sex scandals. It’s NOT how lurid the scandal is (think Barney Frank, who actually had a gay male prostitution ring running out of his house). It’s not how quickly the politician fesses up, honestly (think President Clinton, who left the country twisting as he lied, and lied, and still survived).

No, the ultimate determinant of whether a pol can survive his own mammalian tendencies is the quality and quantity of his political friendships.

If the first reaction of most politicians to a pol’s missteps is, “Shit, I like that guy, and I hope he makes it,” then s/he will. If, instead, even his or her putative allies think, “That asshole, I’m glad to see him (or her) twist in the wind,” then s/he can kiss that career good-bye.

Weiner came down not because he tweeted a picture of his cock, or because he had explicit interactions with six (it seems) women, but because everyone – literally everyone, I believe – in congress was happier to see him go than to see him stay. His short time in congress was characterized by ambition and antagonism, not collegiality.

Eliot Spitzer was the same. His style of governance was so zealous, prosecutorial, adversarial, that everyone saw why it would be good for them were he gone, and no one thought it would be good if he stayed. So he was gone (and will never be back).

Fuck. Ted Kennedy managed to kill a woman and flee the scene, but he already had enough friends (of his own – NOT just his daddy’s and his brothers’) – to weather the storm.

David Vitter, a conservative, moralizing, anti-prostitution Republican, survived his own whore-mongering because senators actually liked him.

In his lengthy therapy session interview with Jonathan van Meter in the Times, Weiner claims that “now he sees all the factors that contributed to” his downfall, and lists them: his name, his position, pictures, its being a slow news period, his having been “an idiot about it,” and, he seems to think most important, his marriage to, and the early pregnancy of, Huma Abedin, the brilliant, accomplished, exotic (and hot – I can say it, because I’m not Barack Obama praising a colleague, I”m a sex blogger writing about a sex scandal) aide to Hillary Clinton.

But he’s wrong.

Weiner will never be elected to anything again for one reason only: no one in politics liked him before the scandal, so no one in politics has any reason to want to see him succeed.

You heard it here first.

  5 Responses to “Sexting, cock shots”

  1. Very good point. I think it would be a bit different for a woman though. Men can be forgiven for sex, if they’re likable, as you say. Women, likable or not would be burned at the stake I’m afraid. Just one of the many reasons I’ll never run for office – way too many naked pictures floating around, not to mention sex stories.

    • For sure. We haven’t yet seen our first major sex scandal involving a female politician, but I’m sure you’re right – especially if there are photos involved.

  2. Getting people to like you and at the same time trying to get things done is never easy,that’s why most politicians can’t survive after being hit by scandals

  3. I think it’s the other way around — you have to get people to like you to get anything done. N, what do you say about the allegation that a woman would be burned at the stake if her sexy photos were found out?

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