Earlier, I surmised that politicians who've had their junk exposed before national audiences are in a position to be more honest in office. But Anthony Weiner's private behavior shows the flip side of having no shame: An ability to think he can avoid the consequences of social judgment entirely. It wouldn't bother me if Weiner continued to sext after his resignation so long as he admitted that, to him, such behavior was not immoral, not wrong, and not a violation of whatever boundaries he and Huma Abedin have set for their marriage. Also, discreet. He had to be discreet.
Instead, he insists that the behavior is wrong, that he learned his lesson, and that his wife has forgiven him. What lessons has he learned? Not clear.
It's unseemly that he seemed to promise his paramour a blogging job in exchange for getting rid of the incriminating messages, which surely must have signaled to her the enormous power that she held over him. That a potential mayor is willing to put himself in this position, a position where he basically plea-bargains against blackmail, is a strike against his competence.
His inability to discreetly conduct his affairs is another. Sexual morals may be changing, but forgive voters if they don't want a mayor's giblets and sex chats antics shoved in their faces. Other actual New York City mayors — well, one, Giuliani — have been similarly audacious with their sexual promiscuity. It's a distraction at best. If Weiner needs the release of internet chatting to satisfy his sexual urges, he ought to understand that until he decides that his behavior is not wrong and is willing to make a case for that, and until the public catches up with that, he either has to stop cold turkey or show enough respect to his constituents to figure out how not to get caught in the damn act.
If he can't get off without it getting out, he doesn't deserve to be mayor.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- This week I learned your coin toss odds are better than you think, and more
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
Subscribe to the Week