Jessica , looks like Weiner is taking your advice. In fact, watching his press conference right now, I’m struck by the fact that Weiner started off shaky and is now, under a barrage of completely ridiculous questions (including questions about whether or not he’s going to get professional help and why he didn’t drag his wife out for the walk of shame that other politicians put their wives through), growing firm and showing resolve to hang in until this blows over. As this drags on, I’m becoming as embarrassed for some of the reporters tossing out prurient questions as I am for him.
It seems that even a year ago, the grounds with which a politician’s sex life became a matter of public interest depended on said politician’s own stance on sexual privacy. “Family values” politicians who supported government enforcement of their religious sexual mores open the door to having their private lives investigated for hypocrisy, and those who didn’t were left alone. As far as I know, Anthony Weiner has never suggested that it’s appropriate for the law to try to control the sex lives of consenting adults, either through abortion bans, restrictions on contraception, or discrimination against gay people. Even with Eliot Spitzer, the question was that he was soliciting prostitutes while prosecuting others for the same behavior.
One thing that strikes me about the questions being asked, and about this entire scandal from the get-go, is the presumption of a single standard of monogamy for all, and the ready assumption held by many in the press that it’s within bounds to enforce that standard on public figures. But during this press conference, Weiner noted that his wife was aware of the flirtations before they married. If Weiner and his wife have a private agreement about his flirtations, I fail to see how this is any business of anyone else’s. The tenor of questions implied that Weiner somehow owes sexual fidelity not to his wife so much as to the rest of us. In 2011, aren’t we as a nation past that? Can’t we as a nation allow couples to come to their own private understandings about how much extramarital activity is allowed, instead of holding everyone to a single standard?