When I first heard about the scandal involving Congressman Anthony Weiner and some inappropriate photos that were taken of his private parts, I could’ve cared less. I simply thought of Weiner as a big government liberal who was pretty much like everyone else in Washington, DC—part of the problem. If Weiner was ever voted out of office his liberal district would probably elect another candidate just like him. If he were thrown out of office for being a sexual pervert, the same sort of replacement would likely occur. Scandal or no scandal, Weiner’s ultimate fate would do little to advance the cause of limited government—so I simply didn’t care what happened to him.
Writing from South Carolina, when I first heard about the 2009 scandal involving my state’s governor, Mark Sanford, cheating on his wife with an Argentinian mistress, it immediately depressed me. In his thorough fiscal conservatism—including being a lone voice amongst governors in standing up to President Obama’s so-called “stimulus” spending—Sanford was one of the few Republicans dedicated to reining in government spending. Even before the scandal, I worried that Sanford’s successor would be just another conventional big government Republican. Post-scandal, I worried that Sanford might be forced him to resign thus making way for some handpicked GOP hack. Scandal or no scandal, Sanford’s ultimate fate concerned me precisely because I did not want to see one of the few Republicans serious about limiting government banished from the political stage.
This is not to say I supported or even excused Sanford’s infidelity. I didn’t then and I still find it deplorable. Similarly, Weiner seems to be living up to his name and now the creepy confessor deserves whatever bad fortune comes his way. But as far as I’m concerned both men are, first and foremost, politicians. Their worth or worthlessness to me is based entirely on their politics.
But what about character, some might ask? Doesn’t someone’s personal judgment say much about their political judgment? Perhaps it does, and ideally I would prefer to support only political leaders who exhibited basic morality and common decency.
The problem is such idealism often clashes with political reality. For example, by all accounts Barack Obama is a morally upstanding and decent family man. To our knowledge, the President is a good father and a loving husband. We have little reason to believe otherwise. For conservatives, does this make Obama a preferable leader over someone like Sanford? Likewise, would liberals really prefer a morally wholesome conservative to a big-government sleazebag like Weiner?
The latter is the easier to discern, as we now see so many liberals not demanding the resignation of Weiner in the same manner they would have any Republican caught in similar scandal. Yes, in supporting liberal leaders, the Left has always been able to enjoy the less politically constrictive standards of social liberalism characteristic of Left philosophy.
In just the past five years, Republicans like Congressmen Mark Foley (who sent sexually explicit text messages to a teenage boy), Mark Souder (who had an affair with a staffer), Chris Lee (who sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman on Craigslist) and of course Senator Larry Craig (who had a questionable encounter with another man in a rest area), were all forced to resign from office. If Weiner keeps his office, it will be due in large part to the socially liberal attitude of his party. Bill Clinton can attest to this.
And the Left might actually be onto something. When I think of the chronic immorality of Washington leaders my first thoughts are not of Tweeted private parts and Argentinian mistresses. I think of a government that believes in taking the fruit of a man’s labor and redistributing it as it sees fit. I think of a government that sends America’s sons and daughters off into mindless wars for no clear or defined reasons. I think of a government that runs roughshod over the Constitution as both habit and sport. And I think of the immorality of burdening the next generation, their children and grandchildren with unfathomable debt—which continues to devalue our currency and damage our country.
One need not go searching for these immoral government acts on Twitter or in the National Enquirer when they can be found in any news headline at any given moment. Yes, Anthony Weiner and his goofy sex life is unquestionably sad and pathetic but so is the lopsided amount of attention America pays to such trivialities—considering the routine immoral behavior committed in Washington everyday by even the most personally wholesome politicians.