Nothing New Under The Sun aka The “Weiner” Roast…

Hello World,

Happy Hump Day! So let me get into the subject of today’s post…A United States congressman from Georgia comes home to visit his constituents during World War II. In an effort to encourage those who have loved ones who have gone to war, he visits the home of several of them to thank them personally for their sacrifices. He visits several lonely wives whose husbands have gone to war. One of those wives is particularly beautiful. And although he tried to forget her once he returns to Washington, he cannot. He visits her again when he returns to Georgia, and their affair begins. She gets pregnant.

To protect himself and her, he uses his power to have the husband return to his wife from the war for a two-week period. He instructs the wife to sleep with her husband so that he will think the child is his months later. The congressman’s plan, however, is foiled when the husband refuses to come home due to his dedication to his fellow servicemen who are not given the same respite. Not wanting to call too much public attention to himself, he lets it go and decides to have the soldier killed instead.

Months after the soldier’s death, the congressman marries the beautiful widow, and they prepare to live “happily ever after.” He is convinced that no one knows about his wrongdoing and tries to move on his with career and life. He realizes, however, when their child is stricken with polio and eventually dies that God knows about his sin. He accepts the death of their child as divine retribution for his wrongdoing. He repents of his sin and goes on to do many wonderful things for his constituents.

Although the congressman remained in office and married to his wife, his personal life was often challenging. In interviews later in his life after his sin was eventually revealed to the public, he traces the difficulties in his personal life to the decision he made to sleep with another man’s wife many years earlier…

Is this a true story? Yes & No…No, there was no such Georgia congressman. But this is essentially the story of King David & Bathsheba in the Bible. You can read the story for yourself in 2 Samuel 11

So what does this have to do with U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner? Well, a lot, actually. In the story of King David & Bathsheba, God made sure that King David was punished for his actions, but he was not removed from the throne for them. I’m starting to wonder should men be removed from their public offices for dalliances in their personal lives. I mean, every week practically, we are hearing about the indiscretions of men in public office. At this rate, we stand to lose much of our brain trust. And the Lord knows, we cannot afford to lose the best minds we have in this economy!

CNN contributor Anne-Marie Slaughter, the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, doesn’t think Weiner should leave his post. In fact, she blogged about it…

They have to be willing to give themselves up to the public – media included – 24 hours a day, while typically earning only a small fraction of what they could earn in the private sector and accepting the continual frustration of operating in a political and bureaucratic system in which it is harder and harder to get anything good done.

They also have to be competitive, driven, extroverted and highly risk-acceptant. Those are often the characteristics of our most successful economic innovators and entrepreneurs; it is not surprising that many of our most effective political figures – typically the rising stars of their parties – have the same traits. These traits, and indeed success itself, also correlates with high testosterone.

That is the backdrop against which I conclude that Anthony Weiner should not resign, but should instead leave the decision regarding whether he can continue to serve in Congress to his constituents.

I in no way condone his behavior with women; it strikes me exactly as a pathology for which he needs treatment.

He has betrayed his wife and family; it is up to them to decide whether to forgive. And he has indeed compromised the public trust invested in him, which is why his constituents should and will have a chance to decide whether his lies mean they no longer trust him enough to have him represent them.

But consider Bill Clinton and Eliot Spitzer, to take only two of the many, many examples of powerful public men caught in sex scandals (Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Rudy Giuliani, Gary Hart) or not caught, but revealed later (Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller).

I for one am deeply glad that Bill Clinton did not resign; he was one of the best presidents of my lifetime and left the country in far better shape than he found it. His wife and daughter chose to forgive him and to preserve their family, which is their business, not ours. He also breached the public trust by lying, but in my view not to an extent that it affected his ability to govern successfully.

Republicans evidently make the same calculation about their candidates. It is striking that Newt Gingrich and David Vitter, to take only two recent Republican examples, were not abandoned by their supporters on the basis of sex scandals of equal severity and hypocrisy to those of comparable Democrats.

Absent criminal behavior, which is another category entirely, the issue is whether sexual misconduct undermines a politician’s ability to represent his or her constituents and contribute to the common good. It is certainly legitimate for Weiner’s Congressional colleagues to voice their views that the scandal surrounding his actions is harming the party’s agenda as a whole. But it is equally legitimate for him to insist that in the end his fate should be decided by the good citizens of his district. A government of, by, and for the people should let the people decide.

It is interesting to note that a recent poll of Weiner’s constituents don’t want him to resign….I don’t know why powerful men throughout the ages continue to be so easily thrown off course by sexual temptations, but does their personal philandering nullify their professional prowess? (Interesting sidebar: President Ronald Reagan was the only divorced president…)

Any thoughts?

~ by jackieholness on June 15, 2011.

8 Responses to “Nothing New Under The Sun aka The “Weiner” Roast…”

  1. I’ve been of the mindset that people should be judged and measured for their work in the office, not outside of the office. What I do in my personal life should not affect my merits at work … unless my personal life starts to hinder work. My only issue with some of these “indiscretions” are those politicians who campaign or work against a ceertain “moral” code but then behind closed doors, they exhibit said traits. For instance, preachers and politicians who rally against homosexuality, and show interest in men, or being against same sex marriage, but cheating on their spouses and showing behavior that is detriment to marriage in general. Just my thoughts.

  2. I agree Cris. A different standard should be used for religious leaders as they are called to lead a moral life, but politicans or other leaders have not necessarily committed to upholding Biblical principles.

  3. I am tired of the ‘weiner’ jokes. Eventually immorality catches up with people. Will Weiner/Clinton/Schwartzneiger and others serve as an example for others? Probably not. I bet that no matter if Weiner stays on, resigns or is censured, many others will follow suit, oblivious to the embarrassment all of these men have brought to their families and constituents.

    As a Christian, I will pray for these men and allow God to be the judge.

    Oh, and I write this on my 10th anniversary to my handsome, moral, loving husband.

  4. Well, Gerri, thank God you have a “handsome, moral and loving husband!” Apparently, they are hard to come by :) And Happy Anniversary!!!

  5. Very clear and concise points made regarding human nature. I recently asked a friend to consider the flaw of brilliance. I asked him to check out the book Melbourne, a favorite of JFK’s, and a book often sited as the explanation by patriarch Joe Kennedy as the rationale for moral indiscretion. Men of power need release. Men of power need respite, and if that respite is illicit or even flagrantly illegal then due consideration must be provided to that person in exchange for the gifts of power and influence that benefit the public good. But due consideration must be made for just how good that public good is in practice, and do those inherent flaws make their way creeping and crawling into public action that can and perhaps does cause harm, even more harm than good. In my opinion the bottom-line was very well stated by the President, and Rev. Al (yes indeed). First and foremost it is a decision for the New York constituents. It is their decision because that is how our political system functions. Second, I firmly believe in the drive to Elevate our Politics, and if we are to do so then we absolutely must demand that our elected officials be better then even they suppose, better then we suppose, upholding a standard of conduct that must be above reproach even it is inclusive of human fallibility from time to time. The line of fallibility must be drawn, and adhered to. Just because one side (THE GOP) won’t hold to such a line, does not mean the other side should dismiss it as well. I’m simply glad someone up there is attempting to hold the line. I have greatly admired the Congressman for his wit, tenacity, intelligence, and persevering strength in the face of adversity. His future may still be bright, but his light of late has most certainly dimmed, and the Democrats are holding him to that line to their credit. I applaud their stance. It is the height of stupidity to even flirt with tweeting your sexual genitals. I just can’t make that come out right in any dimension. And to be clear I support a man’s right to do just that, yes tweet your genitals, with a consenting partner … just not if you hold a position of power and authority duly given to you by the people. In that instance, you abdicate your right to be a legal reprobate. You must hold a line, and WE must hold you to it. Elevate our politics, Jackie.

  6. First of all, well said, well said, D.S. Brown…I agree with much of what you said…I just wonder where the line is sometimes…Should Clinton have been kicked out of the presidential office for the whole Lewinsky incident…to me, that was far worse…He was impeached, but he stayed in office…As a Christian and as a person who mostly tries to do good, his actions were reprehensible, but maybe Weiner needs to take a leave of absence…

  7. I think we must count our blessings where we’ve been led to continued benefits by those in power who have indulged their immorality. And that’s just the bottom line. Clinton’s continued success was a blessing despite the shortcomings. The way things unfolded was a blessing. And we simply have to leave it at that. Still, we need only look at the example presented by our President to know that great men can still be fallible but maintain a line of morality, especially when serving the public good. If we don’t draw a line, how do we measure our growth, our betterment, our progress? As for Congressman Wiener. I guess it’s a foregone conclusion. I hear he’s stepping down.

  8. Yes, it’s true. As of this morning, Weiner stepped down as I’m sure the growing pressure of defending himself against his colleagues was far too much for him…As for our current president and his moral compass, I certainly do admire him…Everyone has ills though, but that does not discount them from being able to contribute to society…thank goodness in Obama’s case it is just a penchant for smoking and not sexting…

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