Kathy Riordan

Kathy Riordan
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Florida, United States
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April 27
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One woman's view of life and the universe. Follow @katriord on Twitter.

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JUNE 7, 2011 8:40AM

The Lessons of Weinergate

Rate: 29 Flag

alg_weiner_2 

If you were inclined to Google "lessons" and "Weinergate" this week you'd find enough to complete your summer reading.  Even before the semi-disgraced politician's late Monday confession that yes, he had irresponsibly tweeted a crotch shot to a young woman not his wife and then failed to take responsibility for it, people were writing about the lessons, the lessons they'd learned, the lessons they hadn't learned, and they hadn't even had full disclosure.

Some were quick to give the congressman the benefit of the doubt given the source of the initial scandal, while others assumed it was just another big man gone down, with possibly more late night giggle factor.

Whether they took to Facebook, Twitter, blogs or the late night air, the lessons were there along with the jokes, stirring in the middle of the bigger sex and power scandals of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Edwards.  It seems to be summer camp for the bad boys.

We've had enough examples of politicians gone awry in recent years to be giving too much benefit of the doubt despite the source.  While the "innocent until proven guilty" serves well in a court of law, in the court of public opinion in the Twitter age it's relatively meaningless.  I generally take as rule of thumb the guideline I follow when standing in line at the supermarket:  if it's on one tabloid, it's questionable--two or three, and it's going to the bank.

Whether Anthony Weiner's tearful confession was prompted by genuine guilt, family conflict or other factors, it follows a pattern well crafted by others--deny, deflect, dissemble, and then ultimately, seek redemption.  That these people deny at the outset or place the blame elsewhere seems to hearken back to childhood and broken cookie jars, a gambit for buying time with mom before dad comes home and gets out the belt.

We are not likely to suddenly get a new breed of politicians honest at the core or invulnerable to flirtations with the irresponsible.  We are not likely to slow down the speed that news, opinion and rumor are delivered to us.  We are not likely to see personal standards in Internet communication raised to the level of dress codes at the Vatican.  Everyone from teenagers to world leaders is tweeting and TwitPicking, FourSquaring and Facebooking, without regard to the consequences.  (Note to Congressman Weiner:  You are not Adrianne Curry, or a Calvin Klein model.)

In the grander sweep of political scandal, Weiner is small potatoes, but reminds us that the lessons are these: there are no lessons we didn't already know.  Don't do anything you don't want to see on a billboard or read as a headline the next day.  Take responsibility for your actions.  Don't assume.  

And for the sake of all things holy:  If you're going to tweet your underwear, make it worth our while.

 

On the Web:

Lessons I Won't Learn From Weinergate - Joan Walsh, Salon

What I Still Haven't Learned from Weinergate - Joan Walsh, Salon 

Chest in Show - John Stewart, The Daily Show (video)

 

 

(image credit of Anthony Weiner, D-NY: Getty

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"If you're going to tweet your underwear, make it worth our while."

Amen sister! All this-- possibly a career-ending scandal over a picture of a man's clothed crotch. As I said over at Cranky's place, I just wish I didn't know some of this stuff. Public officials have been doing idiotic things since forever, but they used to have some semblance of a private life. In today's twitterverse...TMI.
I love that his name is Weiner!!
Great post~
R
I knew from the word GO that he was guilty. The fact that Jon Stewart defended him boggle my mind.
rated with hugs
I see the Weiner style of Hanes His Way under-roos on the marketing horizon. The commercial: Picture all the shame-faced philaderers in a line-up a'la Law and Order.

Hee!
This was thought provoking and humorous at the same time! I don't judge as much as I used to and realize we're all as human as the next person.....but for golly's sake, what was he thinking?! My judgement has nothing to do with morals or even ethics, it's more about his intelligence. Instead of wondering more about his "package," I am wondering more about his IQ! How stupid is the guy?
Kathy, I think that Mr Weiner took an additional risk. The person at the other end of the internet conversation could have been a young teen. Imagine the uproar if Mr Weiner had been messaging and sending photos to a young girl... or boy.
Catherine, the fact that she was a 21-year-old college student is bad enough, but your point is taken.
Much ado about nothing. The scandal if there is one is between he and his wife.
This says it all: "there are no lessons we didn't already know."

I'm utterly astounded -- yet again -- at the stupidity of people who live in the spotlight. Amazing.
This seems to be the new normal. Wonder what next week's scandal will be?
Long before the age of the interwebs and digital cameras, I had the common sense to make a rule. Do not photograph that which should not be seen by everyone. There has been one naked (with undies) photo taken of me- to my knowledge- on a polaroid, and handed to me right after. It was a before shot for a body alignment class. We never did the after, I think that all the students agreed that naked photos made us feel invasive. Granted, we were massage therapy students in Santa Fe in the early 90s, when modesty was becoming necessary. Our teachers, trained to work on the unclad, with no draping, and work on women's breast tissue was accepted and expected. It was supposed to teach us to be comfortable with ourselves. Group trips to hot tubs (unclothed) were normal, as was having a hot tub for your party. Soon, the laws changed and even in spas, with the doors clothes, with permission, one still had to remain fully draped (females, of course). For good and bad. Since then, I made it a personal rule to never allow "personal" photography of an intimate nature. And, I haven't had an ex yet who wouldn't have used that to harass me if it had been allowed to exist. Sigh.
Sorry, the photos felt invasive to us.
True dat especially the last part.
Psst, I hear Mary Lin (OS's infamous spammer) has nudie pics of our Ed I. Tors past, present, and future. Mention offer code "foot-long" and get an extra 10% percent off. Don't ask me how I know because I won't tell ya.
I may be wrong, but I wonder if there would be fewer of these scandals if women were in charge--of everything.
The only reason I care about Weiner's weiner showing up in my consciousness is the fact that HE LIED. If he had told the truth from the get-go, we would just laugh at him and think him pathetic. But he lied, which seems to be the recommended MO from the Brotherhood of Sexting Strategies. That he ever thought he could come out of this unscathed and uncovered makes him a moron in my book. And I am mad as hell about that, because I thought he was one of our good (read: smart) guys.

Lezlie
Kathy, you take a couple of swipes at the original source in the Weiner scandal, without mentioning his name. I guess you mean Andrew Breitbart. It is true that he is a conservative, but he also has scrupulous professional standards, which many in the liberal press would do well to emulate. In any case, he would be foolish to knowingly misrepresent the facts, because there are plenty of other reporters out there who would catch him at it. When I saw that Breitbart was the original source, I knew at once that Weiner had got himself into deep trouble.
The cover-up is often worse than the original foul-up.

Weiner is a joke now, and totally mishandled this (to say nothing of his original lapses in judgement and breaking the trust of his wife). How can anyone take him seriously again?

I'm becoming disheartened that we end up electing these clowns to office.
Arthur, to be clear I'm taking no swipes, commenting on the fact that people seem to think there are lessons to be learned from the Weiner affair, and Brietbart is clearly referenced in tags to the article. My comment on how people responded is intended to be balanced.
My new rule of thumb for public figures is:
If you have to hold a press conference to deny or confirm...something is definitely wrong.
As one of the commenters over at my blog said, I'm waiting for the day one of these guys, instead of lying about it from the outset, just says, "It's a private matter and none of your damn business." Of course, if you want it to be a private matter, don't use a public social medium.

Not to pick a fight with Mr. Louis, but Breitbart's "scrupulous" standards are news to me. He was involved with some of James O'Keefe's videos, which have been consistently criticized for being heavily edited to change the context. He was also the one who released Shirley Sherrod's remarks out of context, starting a ridiculous viral slandering.
But he was just being modest, hiding his wee wee under some gray cloth!

Ok Ok. I'm leaving already. Don't push me.
Cranky, your comment goes to one of the observations I'm trying to make, that we can't always take the source (of a story, or the scandal itself) as credible or not based on our general assumptions, and sometimes, we are too quick to make them, particularly at the speed of social media.
What Susie L. said!
I am getting so sick of this. Have your personal lives guys, but don't involve the public in it. What Weiner did was so juvenile and just plain stupid, it boggles my mind. I liked him. Phooey.
Well said! He's NOT hot!
I haven't seen the photo and given the descriptions I've read, I'm not missing much! I really do not understand AT ALL the mindset of these public figures who profess to be intelligent, seem -- in most instances -- intelligent, and then behave so stupidly. Maybe there should be a Weiner test you have to take before you can run for office, where as part of vetting someone will check your cell phone and computer for nude photos of yourself.
Whichever media person coined the pseudo-word "Weinergate" needs to be shot. For the love of Pete, can we have just one controversy in the country without "-gate" being added to it?
While most logical people could tell Weiner was obviously lying and now dozens of women are coming forward to complain of unwanted tweets, etc. from him, Salon.com, etc. were focusing on hacking of tweet accounts, writing articles and commenting on it, etc.

This it is as if Weiner came out and said, the dog ate my homework and the next day CNN does a huge piece on: Dogs Eating Homework.

Good work, investigative journalists! And thank you Joan Walsh once again rushing, rushing to defend a pervert at the expense of women everywhere. At least you are consistent.
Agreed - that the arrogance and mind-boggling stupidity had a lot to do with it. My own thoughts on Wiener and the other bad boys of summer here:
http://open.salon.com/blog/sgt_mom/2011/06/03/friday_follies_absolutely_the_last_word_from_me_on_wienerg
there are no lessons we didn't already know,hm?

well, yes and no.

we don't know the sordid improper ungentlemanly details
of this particular example
of "bigger (mouth, intolerance, jhutzpa) they got
harder they fall".
we need to know, for we forget.
credit weiner for being an object lesson,
a heuristic device (haha)


maybe
1.MotherState america is settin em up and knockin em down good and hard.
or
2. men have a mighty clever "christ" strategy of humiliating
themselves so much that women finally get them
in their glory and their rock botttom.

both, i hope!
Excellent, eloquent, and thorough, as always, Kathy. Agreed about the roots in the cookie jar!
Yes! There is NOTHING to be learned from Weinergate that we didn't already know. The insane amount of attention this has been getting is a travesty.
Thank you for including Weiner in your title.
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