Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weiner Exposes A Gender Gap at The New Yorker

Ben Greenman, editor of the Goings On About Town section in The New Yorker, finds a teachable moment in the Anthony Weiner press conference:

I made a joke during the press conference, on Twitter, that we shouldn't forget the real victims — the hackers Weiner unfairly accused. But there's a way in which there is a broader class of victims, not only the public officials who have to watch their every step, possibly at the expense of focussing on governance, but also the millions of private citizens who now form some kind of unholy panopticon, watching for a misstep so that we can get in on the conversation (and the spotlight). There's such a thing as legitimate scrutiny, but is this it?
I don't know about you, but I had to look up the word "panopticon" on Wikipedia. Ben Greenman is concerned that the internet now makes it possible for millions of citizens to keep an eye on their politicians. He longs for the good old days when a politician might only have to fear a snarky squib in The New Yorker, or perhaps Vanity Fair.

Hendrik Hertzberg, chief snark, followed up on that theme:

On MSNBC, the cable-news "home page" of my political tribe, one commentator said that one of the things Weinergate shows is that powerful politicians assume they can get away with things that regular people can't. If they do assume that, they're wrong. It would be more accurate to say that they can't get away with things thiat regular people can. Look around you. Consider your friends, your work colleagues, your relatives, maybe even yourself. It's likely that a nontrivial proportion of them have some sexual secret (at least they think it's a secret) in their lives. If their secret comes out, if they get caught in an embarrassing lie about it, the whole world isn't going to hear about it. It won't be national news.
Susan Orlean brought it back around:

"what kind of idiot sends lewd pictures of himself via social media and thinks he won’t get caught?"
Samantha Henig was more succint:

"His Twitter account was not hacked, and that was his underwear."
Lauren Collins asked the really tough question:

"wouldn't it be great if our elected officials could stop inflicting these unsavory screwups on us in the first place?"
Amy Davidson lands the knockout punch:

"taking full responsibility" does not mean resigning, which makes one wonder how abject, as opposed to humiliated, Weiner is.
If you are keeping score, that's two men ruing the sad fate of Anthony Weiner and four women ruing his sick behavior.

Note: Don't think Ben Greenman spent much time worrying about over-scrutinizing Sarah Palin. It is the Summer Fiction Issue.

Update: Judging from Ross Douthat, the men of the New York Times are lining up with the women of The New Yorker:

But he didn’t resign. And this, to me, is the dealbreaker. A confession is just words, so much sound and fury, without an act of contrition, and the act of contrition appropriate to Weiner’s offenses is the resignation of his office. When there are real consequences for a shameful act, there can be a second chance — but the whole idea of a second chance implies that you’ve given up your first one. This is why, to return to an old theme, I’d rather cheer for Michael Vick than cast a vote for Anthony Weiner (or David Vitter, to pick a prominent Republican example), even though Vick’s crimes were far worse than a mere sex scandal. Willingly or not, Vick actually paid for his crime with years in prison (as well as years away from football and millions in lost income). Whereas too many politicians, from Weiner to Vitter to Bill Clinton, seem to think that atonement begins and ends with the apologetic press conference.


Anonymous said...

I can't imagine many New Yorkers care about this. They continued to love Bill Clinton post-Monica and he lied to Americans for months about the actual affair. In contrast, Weiner had no physical contact with the women and confessed very quickly. Besides which, what difference does this victimless crime make for how Rep. Weiner votes and who he stands up for?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It's clear that Anthony Weiner continued these online flirtations, and in at least one case started a new one, even after NY Congressman Chris Lee was exposed for similar transgressions in February. That's beyond dumb.

Yes, New Yorkers can reelect this guy if they want, but that doesn't mean we have to take him seriously.