It was “the moment Weiner was waiting for,” headlines The Atlantic. New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner admitted on Tuesday that he engaged in “sexting” (sending explicit pictures of himself) after the 2011 scandal that led to his resignation from Congress.
He was clearly prepared for this news to break. His wife stood by his side, stating: “I love him, I have forgiven him, I believe in him,” and the sexting issue is “between us.” Weiner claimed that “in many ways things are not much different than they were yesterday.”
On one hand, there is abundant recent precedent for his political comeback. Eliot Spitzer resigned as New York’s governor in 2008 following reports of his activities with prostitutes, but is now running for comptroller of New York City. Mark Sanford admitted an affair in 2009, but was recently elected to Congress from South Carolina. Despite Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinski, his popularity is at an all-time high. Weiner was following the same trajectory, leading the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor.
On the other hand, now he’s a repeat offender. In July 2012 he told People magazine that he had “tried to become a better person” every day since the sexting scandal. The latest indiscretion seems to have started just days after he gave that interview. Now The New York Times has called for Weiner to “take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from the cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City.” And the Daily News stated, “He is not fit to lead America’s premier city.” What voters decide about him will say something significant about morality in America.
George Bernard Shaw observed, “Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” Why is personal immorality less relevant to political success today?
Here’s my theory: So long as the personal failures of a politician don’t affect us personally, we think they’re none of our business. In fact, many of us affirm failed leaders because their mistakes legitimize our own. However, we are intolerant of anyone we consider to be intolerant, as illustrated by the escalation of discrimination against Christians who “discriminate” against homosexuals. (Note the irony.)
Shakespeare observed, “some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.” While that may be true in American politics, God warns: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).