The XX Factor

Weiner Cops to Twitter “Relationships,’ Says He Wanted To Protect Wife

Jess, you might be right that Weiner’s best bet might have been to cop to the lone “crotch shot” and tell people to get on with their lives, a la Krystal Ball. We’ll never know, but what we do know is that he probably couldn’t have handled this situation more poorly . His claims of being hacked, followed by his weird admission that he couldn’t deny that the photo was of him, served only to drag this out and make it more prominent.

What struck me during his news conference this afternoon wherein he copped to the picture and said he wouldn’t resign, was that he did emulate the behavior of another Democratic politician caught up in a sex scandal:  John Edwards. Edwards’ defense in the case that he used campaign funds to conceal his affair with Reille Hunter is that he was really trying to protect his poor, sick wife, Elizabeth, from his infidelity. (Not a bad defense, when you think about it, but then, it’s impossible for any candidate to separate his personal and public lives when he flaunts his family so publicly as part of his image.) Weiner also said today that he was just trying to protect his wife when he was denying that the photos were of him.

My guess is that Weiner will survive this. He seemed sincere and contrite. Plus, next week, some other politician will be caught soliciting sex in a bathroom or having an affair or fathering a “love child,” or Sarah Palin will say something else stupid, and the media will go scurrying like a bunch of 4-year-olds after a soccer ball. Weiner will recede, except as the punch line to the occasional joke. And it’s a good thing, because Krystal Ball did have a point, as you mention, Jess. Twitter and Facebook are not going away. More photos will surface, resulting in more mini-scandals, and if everyone who gets caught resigns, we’ll not have anyone left to govern us.

But there is a lesson to be learned, and I hope that the next time someone gets caught, they won’t use the lame excuse that they are trying to protect their spouse. Men, especially high-profile men like Edwards and Weiner, should know that there is a much simpler and much better way to protect their wives from their tawdry behavior: Don’t engage in it in the first place.