“What I do after seven in the evening is my business.”
— French President Georges Pompidou (1972)
Before the story is buried under an avalanche of irrelevant news about the war in Afghanistan, the economy and the deficit, a few wayward thoughts on L’Affaire Weiner:
1. This isn’t a case in which the Pompidou Rule — that even a public figure is entitled to a private life — applies. Having 45,000 “followers” on Twitter doesn’t suggest a lust for after-hours privacy. When public figures go public with their private lives, they’re fair game.
2. Neither is it a scandal brought about because Anthony Weiner merely did a “stupid” thing. Stupid things are done out of ignorance or lack of understanding. Weiner knew exactly what he was up to. Call it arrogance, call it puerility, but let’s not give the stupid among us a bad name.
3. Nor is this a case of the cover-up bringing on the problem. That’s a conventional canard that dates back to Watergate. Does anyone seriously believe that if Richard Nixon had gone on television to confess, “I approved the break-ins,” The Washington Post and Democrats on Capitol Hill would have dropped the matter? Or that Anthony Weiner’s confessing that he sent a photo of his crotch to a 23-year-old co-ed would have led Fox News and Republicans on the Hill to laud him for candor?
No, for politicians it’s not the cover-up that leads to trouble. It’s being guilty of something that needs covering-up.
4. Finally, about this business of Weiner seeking “professional help.” That’s simply the secular politician’s equivalent of calling in Billy Graham for a prayer session; which, I recall, has a 50-50 track record as a tactical ploy. It worked for Clinton but not for Nixon.
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