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Anthony Weiner and the Two Faces of Political Sex Scandals


POLITICS - Okay, I get it. Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner has been sending lewd photos to women on Twitter, and the details are kinky and weird. To me, it seems like another member of Congress caught in a sex scandal – and as we know, politicians are far more likely to get busted with their pants down than most other professions.

But now, leaders in his own Party – like Nancy Pelosi, and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz – want Congressman Weiner to resign; and as more embarrassing photos emerge, it’s probably inevitable.

It’s tempting for me to respond that it’s just his personal life, and is between him and his wife – but it’s far more complicated than that. What really bothers me here is the blatant double standard involved with sex scandals. If a Republican gets caught in a similar situation, you don’t see calls from members of his own party to resign. In the case of Louisiana Senator David Vitter, they helped him get re-elected.

More than anything, the Anthony Weiner scandal is sad and pathetic. It probably wasn’t illegal (all but maybe one of the women were over 18), and Weiner never met any of them in person. He met the women online, where he e-mailed (or tweeted) photos of his crotch and several shirtless pics.

When you’re a politician whose last name is “Weiner,” it just shows a profound lack of judgment – and, of course, ample fodder for late-night comedians.

And getting caught in a “cyber-sex” – rather than real sex – scandal is more humiliating than anything else, so I’m not exactly surprised he denied it at first (claiming his Twitter account was hacked.)

But while it’s kinky and morbidly entertaining, let’s compare it with what a Republican politician did. In 2007, Senator David Vitter was caught soliciting prostitutes – which, in Washington DC and Louisiana where the incidents happened, is certainly illegal.

And “Diaper Dave,” as the scandal came to be known, involved the Senator putting on adult diapers and pooping in them – in order to get his sexual kicks.

Sounds like a more gross fetish than anything Weiner did. But did national Republicans respond by calling for his resignation, saying it was a “distraction” or an “embarrassment” for their party come election time?

No, of course not. They asked for forgiveness, and David Vitter was safely re-elected.

Granted, not all Republicans are as lucky as David Vitter – and in some cases, some are indeed asked to resign.

With the media giving 24/7 coverage to the Anthony Weiner scandal this week, former Congressman Mark Foley was on Fox News – hypocritically blasting the Democratic leadership for “not doing enough” about Wiener.

Foley was caught “sexting” too, but unlike Weiner he did not do it to random women online whom he’d never met. Instead, Foley did it to under-age boys who were working under him as Congressional pages – and who he saw on a regular basis.

Oh, and Foley asked these 16-year-old pages to measure their penises for him – while he was chairing the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.

But there’s one place where Republicans seem to lay down the hammer with one of their own – if it’s a gay sex scandal.

Remember Senator Larry Craig? He was caught “foot-tapping” at an airport men’s room in Minneapolis – and the cops picked him up for sexual solicitation. Craig resigned, and he held a press conference – where rather than denying the allegations of lewd conduct, just repeatedly said that he is not gay.

But Vitter and prostitutes? Just as long as they were women, it’s all okay with the GOP.

If Anthony Weiner should resign, then so should David Vitter.

(Paul Hogarth is the managing editor at beyondchron.org where this column was first posted.) -cw

Tags: politics, sex scandals, Senator David Vitter, Republicans, Democrats, Washington DC, Louisiana, kinky sex, Mark Foley, Republican hypocrisy, Larry Craig, prostitutes

Vol 9 Issue 47
Pub: June 14, 2011