What is the most disappointing thing about Anthony Weiner, the Congressman who sent a lewd photograph of himself to a woman he did not know via the Internet? Is it the act itself? Or is it the panicked attempt to cover up the problem once it fell into the public domain? Or is it something else?
Exposing one’s sexual organ on the Internet is commonplace these days. There is a growing list of celebrities, politicians, sports stars and others who have been caught doing it. Our teenage sons and daughters have done it for years by mobile phone and call it “sexting.” If those photos become public, it can be embarrassing and humiliating. But in the scheme of troubling issues on this planet, it is merely a blip. Europe thinks we’re crazy for our many sexual hangups and puritanism.
You would think too that Weiner had plenty of examples going back decades showing the many failures of attempted coverups and the harsher outcomes they often bring. In fact as he stepped before the media last week to lie, distort and hedge, Weiner had two prime examples that should have discouraged his deceitful path.
The politician John Edwards was in the news for trying to coverup his “love child” with a former campaign worker. While exposure of the affair would have ruined his political career, the attempt at coverup leaves criminal charges hanging over his head.
And then there was the case of Jim Tressel, the Ohio State football coach who lied about his role in NCAA violations. If he had only admitted it, Tressel likely would’ve received a slap on the wrist. Instead he was forced to resign a job that had taken him to the pinnacle of his career.
Perhaps the biggest lesson from the Weiner affair involves crisis management. Why do we as individuals and as a nation wait until the last possible moment to fix a problem?
With the nation, think global warming and greenhouse gases.
With Weiner, well, it’s difficult to believe that his sexual proclivities popped up only three years ago. Three decades ago is more like it. To take the chances he did — exposing himself on the Internet to strangers — suggest sexual addiction, that the risk factor heightened the arousal and perhaps that he wanted to get caught.
He’s a smart man. He should have figured it out years ago and perhaps got help. But he didn’t. That’s disappointing as well.