Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin graced the cover of the New York Times Magazine on Sunday as the one-time political power couple is trying to regain that status in Democratic circles. As you might recall, Weiner was a U.S. Congressman from New York until he forgot that it’s not a smart move to flirt via Twitter with someone you don’t know nor is it advisable to Tweet pictures of your private parts, even if they’re covered with your skivvies. His wife is a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton. Weiner was well on his way to becoming a favored candidate for New York City mayor — until the now infamous “Weiner-gate.”
As I wrote at the time, this sort of scandal of impropriety doesn’t seem to happen with women electeds. We know well the tales of Mark Sanford,Eliot Spitzer, and so many other politicos who do things in their private lives they assume will never become public, and end up paying some sort of political price when those actions inevitably become media fodder.
Two years ago, I mused that for “less Weiner” we just need to elect more women. Today, I still think that could be the answer to living in a world where we don’t have to read any more redemption-as-comeback stories, a la Anthony Weiner.
Think about it. Whenever a new sex scandal makes breaking news, it’s almost never a woman. Maybe that’s just because there are fewer women in elective office so there are fewer chances that a woman in power will get outed for any online dalliances. What I think is more likely, though, is that women are just smarter and, frankly, too damn busy for this sort of nonsense. For most political women, it was hard enough to get elected in the first place; they’re not going to jeopardize what they worked so hard for by flashing the internet with some bikini shots. And many of those political women are moms who know better than to embarrass their kids with having to see their mother stand up at some news conference podium to admit that when she was supposed to be in the well of the House of Representatives she was actually in the cloakroom trying to get a WiFi signal to dash off a quick Tweet to some college dude across the country.
As Dee Dee Myers said in her book Why Women Should Rule the World, “I’m confident predicting there would be fewer sex scandals if women were in power… I don’t think Hillary Clinton is going to be hitting on the intern.” Electing more women to avoid this sort of semi-sex scandal isn’t a question of moral superiority, it’s just common sense. I realize that by making this argument, there will be those who say I’m being sexist by contending that women would never fall the way so many political men have in recent years. Maybe it is.
But the truth of the matter is that for the vast majority of women, if we’ve got any spare time and we decide to spend it in the world of social media, we’re more about building something positive for our communities. We’re less concerned about pumping up our egos by pretending that some hot guy in his 20s is still interested in us Boomer and Gen X ladies. We know better and we just don’t have time for that craziness.
At the time of “Weiner-gate,” my friend from the other side of the political aisle E.M. Zanotti suggested there was no need for Weiner to resign, as she thought it was punishment enough that a guy named Weiner was busted in a scandal involving TwitPics of his privates.
What do you think today? According to the New York Times Magazine article, many of Weiner’s former constituents say they’d vote for him again if they believe he learned a lesson. His lesson in bad judgment was a supremely public one. If New Yorkers truly can forgive and forget, Weiner may just be on his way to Gracie Mansion.