Monday, June 6, 2011

John Edwards (and now Anthony Wiener)

One of the characters we judge ourselves and those with whom we interact by is the ability to acknowledge our own (or their own) failings. Without such acknowledgements others find us (and we them) to be arrogant, deaf to criticism, and normally unable to comprimise because they fail to be able to grasp the comparatives to their own conduct, which in others they complain about, but seem unable/unwilling to see themselves doing.

I supported John Edwards for President. I didn't give him money, but I spoke (out) on his behalf. He seemed, unlike most of his peers, to understand the plight of working class Americans who see their jobs off-shored/outsourced, their health care costs run amok, and their pay languish. He seemed to understand that the issue wasn't a lack of corporate profits (which were high and higher), but rather a lack of decent pay.

Nothing he stood for though, excused his apparent/alleged conduct with contributor cash. Even if he didn't violate the letter of the law, he absolutely violated the spirit of the law assuming the allegations are true that he used cash as payoff money to keep people quiet about his affair with a campaign aid.

Equally, nothing excuses taking advantage of your powerful relationship to woo an impressionable young staffer.
Nothing excuses having an affair, and continuing to do so, when your wife is dying of bone cancer. All of us have libidos, but all of us must put our personal desires aside for the benefit of our children and the people we promised to love until death parted us, who is in the fight of her life to stick around for those children.

I, without reservation, condemn and repudiate John Edwards for his conduct. It was immoral, it was wrong, it was disgusting and his fall from grace was of his own making and entirely deserved.

Ditto for Anthony Wiener. While Rep. Wiener's original sins were private (and frankly I couldn't give a darn about him sending pictures to Mother Theresa or the unwed mother of his undisclosed out of wedlock kids, I don't care). But he walked up in front of his constituents and nakedly lied. While not the death-knell of Sen. Edwards alleged conduct of paying people off to keep them quiet, it was horrible behavior. Rep Wiener, you should resign, not just because you've humiliated your office, but also because you've made a career of self-serving grandstanding, shunning the hard work. Clearly you are an egoist, perhaps it's time to go ground yourself for a while.

One of my personal complaints about conservative America is that they are nearly universally unwilling to acknowldege flaw or failing. In President Bush, at first they had a tin-ear about Iraq and the failures there, then it was about the mailaise plaguing the nation's economy, then they said that the downturn in 2007 and into 2008 was merely "a cycle", then, after 9/15/2008, it was blame regulation. and so on. It seems far too often they take a tack that they attack attack attack, but never accept accountability or responsibility or hold their own politicians accountable for bad concduct.

One of the chief differences I see between the parties (and there are scant few), is that normally Democrats will shun and condemn abhorant conduct. I certainly condemn the conduct of John Edwards and Anthony Wiener. To put lie to a false claim that Democrats don't condemn their own party member's bad conduct, let me repeat that. John Edwards, if he used campaign funds illegally, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. His alleged conduct, if true, emperils our electoral integrity. Either way, both he and Wiener deserve the repudiation of their party.

It would warm my heart to hear Republicans condemn Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh or David Vitter, but my condemnation of Edwards isn't predicated or dependent on it, and in fact I'm, fine if it stands starkly alone.


  1. Rep Wiener, you should resign, not just because you've humiliated your office, but also because you've made a career of self-serving grandstanding, shunning the hard work.

    Could you provide some examples of him shunning the hard work ?

    There are plenty of members of Congress (Boehner's golf trips and Kline's cigar clubs) that indicate them putting themselves ahead of their elected duties, but it always seemed to me that Congressman Weiner worked hard. Yes, he was passionate ... heck, I recall him getting accollades from Raymond Cravaack (R-MN-08) for pushing hard on cutting funding for the Peace Initiative ... Weiner also took on NASA spending versus home heating assistance ... I may not have agreed with all his votes, but I need to hear where he "shunned the hard work".

    That aside, he should resign ... even if he did all this texting on his own computer and time, his lying was not something that should be condoned.

  2. I don't think we know the full story yet, of what transpired with Weiner. Pelosi was correct to call for a House Ethics investigation, because I think that is the only correct way to hold Weiner properly accountable.

    I won't call for his resignation until we know the full extent of what he did - or didn't do. There may be other, better or more appropriate sanctions than his resignation.

    I seem to recall for example that Congressman Lee resigned not only for sending semi-naked pictures of himself, but also for attempting to arrange an in-person meeting for explicitly described sex with a woman he met online, to whom he had falsified both his identity and his marital status.

    Cantor, so far, appears to have indulged an interactive fantasy sex life, not a more real one. That is not acceptable, by any means, and it is still very much imho a kind of infidelity. I'm angry with Weiner for that, but he has never been a hypocrite sanctimoniously claiming better family values than other politicians who were sinning behind closed doors just as actively - or more so.

    I'm far angrier at his lying, his media-blitz decption, which was both wrong and stupid.

    He was elected by his constituents; let the House Ethics Committee, his constituents, and most of all his wife decide how they wish to proceed, because they each have a greater stake in this than the rest of us.

    But the rest of us shouldn't give him a pass either.

    I do hope Weiner's next statement won't be to blame his super-patriotism, like Gingrich did with the line "There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."

  3. Cantor, so far, appears to have indulged an interactive fantasy sex life, not a more real one.

    Is that a typo ? I know that Eric Cantor has stated that Anthony Weiner should resign (yet Cantor took the line that the people of Nevada should determine the fate of Senator Ensign and did not call for his resignation ... he made the same comment about Governor Mark Sanford.)

    The Anthony Weiner incident is a product of today's electronic age (without digital images being transmitted via the Internet, this probably would not have happened.) It is not just a "male thing" as in my area, a nurse sent naked pictures of herself to a male doctor that she worked with ... nobody would have probably ever heard of that until she "allegedly" killed her husband with a shotgun while he slept ... the police upon reviewing her computer found the photos ... the doctor's name became known and he is now facing charges of fondling female patients (who probably never would have come forward if the photos had not been found.)

    But the "crime" is lying ... which I suspect dates back to the time of Adam and Eve (that's a literal expression).
    It's the lying that gets them in trouble ... heck, how many Congressmen lost their elections after the Bank Scandal in the '80s ... but that gets forgotten ... did you hear a lot of talk about John McCain's involvement in the Keating bank scandal during his 2008 presidential campaign ?
    and it's not just politicians ... Ohio State's football coach Jim Tressell lies will impact the school for years to come.

    Funny thing is that Elliot Spritzer resigned ... and now he's the host of a prime-time news show ... Anthony Wiener could resign and become a television star !

  4. ACK!!!!! Apologies to Eric Cantor - yes it is a typo.

    That should have read "Cantor is calling for harsher penalties for Weiner than he did for others, notably John Ensign and Mark Sanford for even more serious misconduct, payoffs, or more prolonged lies. WEINER, so far, appears to have indulged an interactive fantasy sex life, not a more real, physical one."

    Not a typo, bad cut and paste on my part - but thank you Mac for catching it!

  5. Thanks for the update.

    BTW ... if you want to slam someone for shunning their legislative responsibilities ... how about the Republican leadership ? Do you know how many WEEKS they have had off this year ? ... Oh, and you cannot count this week ... because today was a typical day .. 10AM Prayer .. 10:02 Pledge of Allegiance ... 10:03 Adjournment ... WHAT A JOKE ... the House holds pro-forma sessions just so that they can count it as a day in session but no one is there ...

    And on other matters, even though Anthony Weiner has not been charged with any illegal activity, Tim Walz (D-MN-01) has donated the monies that Congressman Weiner gave to his election campaign to a Veterans group ...
    hmmm ... a little different from the way that John Kline (R-MN-02) handled the Tom DeLay donations ... Mr. Kline said that he would donate the monies that Mr. DeLay gave his campaign if Mr. DeLay was convicted of a crime ... Mr. DeLay was ... but I challenge anyone to prove that Mr. Kline kept his word.

  6. While I don't really like Edwards I don't think he committed a crime. One of the stories had a part of the conversation, email I think, between the two donors of the funds. I don't recall the exact words but it was pretty clear they understood this was not a campaign donation but money to help him out with personal matters. That is not illegal. Should it be? Probably, at the very least it is not a good thing for a presidential candidate to accept money so he can keep his mistress and their love child hidden. And what would happen when he was elected and the donors came back and said we are going to tell all unless...

    And Minn Central, the House and Senate both normally take a summer vacation this time of yr. Now I don't remember who it was but there was someone Obama was trying to get a job in his administration and could not get the Senate to approve. Obama stated his intention to use a recess appointment. Speaker Boehner decided there would not be a break, sort of. You see the constitution says the Senate has to have permission of the House to adjourn, Boehner did not give it so no recess appointment but they have to call the House to order at least once every 3 days. Just a political blocking technique. They are actually working more than past yrs during this time since one or two have to show up every 3 days for a few minutes.

  7. Hi Ttucker,
    First off, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my comment and offering your assessment.

    Yes, I am familiar with the recess appointment clause in the Constitution … this was a pretty ignored issue until President Bush used a recess appointment to install John Bolton as US Ambassador to the United Nations --- this was after the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee did not recommended him (notably when George Voinovich (R-OH) formally opposed the Bolton nomination.)

    But that is not the case this week … the US Senate was in session … voting and holding hearings … while the House was dark … and as CBS reported on it’s Friday broadcast, this is the fourth week in the past eight that they have been off. Yes, I know that Congress regularly takes a week-off (or two) around Memorial Day … but four ? And remember that they took off weeks in January, February, March and April.

    Did you see Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) May 18th OpEd in the Washington Post berating his colleagues for inaction in addressing the deficit …

    Where is the Senate?
    Our country is facing the greatest threat to our freedom and future since 1941. Any honest view of our debt, deficits, size of government and demographic challenges shows we must make major changes if we are going to pass on the American way of life to our children. Each week seems to bring new warning signs: slower-than-expected growth (already as much as 25 to 33 percent every year, some estimate), higher-than-expected unemployment numbers, admonitions to get our act together from the international financial community.
    If these facts are true — and very few policymakers deny them — why has the U.S. Senate become the least deliberative “greatest deliberative body” in the world?
    The lack of leadership and initiative in the Senate is appalling. As of this week, the Senate has held just 72 roll call votes this year, about one per legislative day on mostly noncontroversial and inconsequential matters. By this time last year, we had taken more than twice that number of votes (152). By this time in 2009, we had taken 192 votes. If we continue to avoid tough choices, we will lose control of our economic destiny and go down in history as the Senate that lost America. Our epitaph will read: Never before in the field of legislating was so much ignored by so many for so long.

    Did you read John Boehner’s (R-OH-08)’s “Pillars of a New Majority” (find the
    link in this commentary) ? Mr. Boehner’s been around long enough to know the problems … and the “Pillars” promised some good actions … but those pillars have crumbled.
    There is a lot that can be gained when the Representatives work in session … oh , sure they will argue, but in the long run, they will find that some things can be accomplished … but when they are back in their districts, their probably more focused on tapping donors and appeasing vocal special interest groups …
    IMO, there is not a coincident that the stock market has been dropping over the past six weeks … the antics over raising the debt ceiling is shaking investors.

    Take care,
    Mac Hall