As America slides further into the intellectual abyss, our collective ability to employ rational perspective — let alone critical thinking — becomes increasingly mitigated. Which is to say that as a nation, we’ll believe almost anything so long as we’re entertained. Such is the case with how Americans ingest information from what we now accept as “news”.
Recently, Gregg Jarrett of Fox News laughably showed his network’s approach to newsertainment by making disparaging, if not deriding remarks about CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley for his choice to pass on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s overexposed, albeit spectacular penis and choosing as his lead story — of all things– actual news. “This ain’t the 1960’s or 1970’s anymore” Jarrett lamented, as he called Pelley’s choice to not open his broadcast with the most famous schmekel in the nation, “a mistake”… and further went on to ridicule him for wanting to report “wars and real news”. The tragedy is, that where it concerns ratings, Jarrett is correct.
Despite unemployment again rising above 9%, violent turmoil around the globe, a derivatives market that remains unregulated and a political system that colludes with the financial industry, Weiner was the top story all week. When this story broke I surprised much of the http://www.UnLearn.TV audience when I was less sympathetic than many thought I would be. I believed (and still do) Anthony Weiner should resign. This assertion comes despite my appreciation for sexual libertines, or my own personal hedonistic indulgences. I have no “moral” issues with consenting adults and how they exhibit sexuality, as I believe morality and sexuality to be independent concepts. Personally, if I was packing like Rep. Weiner, I’d walk around the mall in pastel colored biker shorts. That was not my issue with the congressman.
I also understand that there are corrupt politicians who vote to pass legislation that will negatively impact all of our lives so that they can profit personally, and that such legislators deserve much more of our attention. Anthony Weiner’s photo eroticism doesn’t affect anyone’s income, health care, or safety. I get that. But there are other issues at hand here…. Other issues that cable news is either unwilling, or unable to articulate for fear of boring an audience more concerned with tabloid exploitation than reason.
To my knowledge, no one in the media has stopped to ask why someone as smart as Anthony Weiner would purposely do something so incredibly stupid. At least they haven’t sought a real answer beyond whatever double entendre laden punch line they were setting up their imaginatively attenuated colleagues for. Weiner knew he’d get caught. He had to. The rest of us did. So why did he do it? My conclusions have determined my reasons for feeling that Rep. Weiner should go quietly into that good night.
First, anyone who hasn’t figured out that not everyone on the Internet is who they say they are doesn’t deserve the benefit of anyone’s doubt. But Weiner does understand that, he just chose to ignore it. He is well aware that regardless of what some balding, middle aged CPA from Topeka claims, he is not really a 21 year old blonde nymphomaniac with a huge rack and a congressional fetish. He is also very cognoscente of the fact that he may well have been corresponding with someone who has not yet reached the age of consent.
Second, Weiner managed to legitimize an ignominious dullard whose only prior claim to fame was a misleadingly edited video tape. In the world of journalism, Andrew Breitbart was considered to have the integrity a crack whore in need of a fix. Even to fellow conservatives he was the fat kid who got picked last for dodge ball. Now he’s a star, and it’s Weiner’s fault. His fellow Democrats must be vomiting.
And third, Congressman Anthony Weiner defines himself through his trouser tuna , and he’s so utterly self obsessed that it obviously effects his decision making ability. There is a serious psychological disconnect there which frankly, I am unqualified to diagnose. But I do know that there are healthy ways to entertain one’s libidinous proclivities without imploding one’s entire career. And even though Weiner’s constituents seem able to indulge his narcissism so long as he remained effective at his job, it is the self destructive dynamic to his personality which makes me believe that he is incapable of being a competent legislator. Anyone who can’t contain their sexual exhibitionism and is willing to risk their political convictions for a cheap thrill should not be in a position to make our laws.
However, as the nation continues to allow itself to be distracted by the aptly named “Weiner-gate”… there is another poorly reported angle to this story which a dummied down America has come to accept without question. The misrepresentation of what a “mistake” actually is has impaired our collective judgment whenever people (often politicians) get caught after having carried out their intentions. When a person tries to do something, and accomplishes the very task they set out to do, that is not a mistake. It’s a bad decision, sure, but it’s not like they misplaced a decimal point during long division.
One does not “mistakenly” rob a bank, commit adultery, or in this case, send internet pictures of their genitals. So when Congressman Weiner says he wants to take responsibility for what he did, he is again not being honest. If that were the case, he could have diffused most of this from the outset by acknowledging his online trysts, and telling the media that these were private matters between he and his wife. That would have left the press with almost no place to take the story. But he wanted us all to see his pride and joy . Moreover, he needed us to see it.
Anthony Weiner knew these pictures would eventually become public. He is not stupid. He’s just a self absorbed narcissist, motivated by phallic fame. The place for this type of egocentric attention seeking is reality television, not the Capitol.
I like Anthony Weiner, but not as a congressman. Even though I often disagree with him, his is a voice that is vital to the national discourse… so I’m sure CNN would love to have him. They sure as hell can use the ratings.