Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weiner to Resign; Democrats Jump Shark

The Hill is reporting that Rep. Anthony Weiner will resign, likely Thursday, in the face of pressure from all sides after tweeting pictures of himself to at least six women. 

I am reporting that this goddamn party has jumped the shark. 

I grew up in Massachusetts and I've voted mostly Democrat ever since I was old enough to do so.  I'm sure lots of people would like to brush that off as "oh, you're just voting that way because of where you lived or how your parents voted," or any of the other tired tropes that people haul out when they want to suggest that people who disagree with them are unthinking automatons because it's easier to dehumanize people than consider their views.  And you know, in a certain way, they're not wrong.  I DO vote Democrat because of my parents and my community, because my parents taught me to care about the welfare of other people, and not just myself.  My community - Worcester goddamn Massachusetts, home of the smiley face, of the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, of the American Antiquarian Society, of the Higgins Armory Museum, of the Galleria - taught me that when a community bands together and cares about each other, they can make a better world for themselves and for others.  My community and my parents taught me that when you make sure everyone's doing all right, everyone can succeed, and everyone can reap the benefits of that success, because we don't live in little bubbles, we live together, and that means it matters how everyone else is doing.  So yes, I vote Democrat, campaign Democrat, write Democrat and live Democrat because of where I grew up and who taught me.

All of that is why I am so angry - infuriated - with the Democrats for pressuring Weiner to resign.  What he did was wrong.  The man is married and he was sending pictures of his genitalia to women, some of whom did not solicit it, which is doubly bad, because consent matters.  However, he did nothing illegal, and he did not run on the kind of Super Morals Man platform that so many on the right bust out every couple of years, so not only did he not break the law, he didn't go against his own public statements.  He's a scumbag, and that's really disappointing, because I like Anthony Weiner, but being a scumbag doesn't carry legal consequences.  Instead of defending their own, the Democrats decided to start whining about what a distraction Weiner was.  Let us be clear: taking this stance made it a distraction.  It is absolutely mindboggling to me that the Democrats did not turn around and slap the GOP as hard as they could with the hypocritical defense of GOP members who committed actual crimes in the course of their scandals.  It is remarkable that they did not have the backbone to say "we will talk about this when David Vitter, who broke the law of his own district and state by hiring prostitutes, resigns."  It is amazing that they failed to say "why should Weiner resign when John Ensign continues to serve after sleeping with a subordinate, paying people to cover it up, hiring his assignee's son and bribing her husband, and lying flagrantly and continually about it all?"  It is spectacular in the actual sense of being a spectacle that not a single soul in the Democrat party managed to say "Weiner will resign when it costs the taxpayers a single penny, like the exploits of Mark Sanford, who flew to Argentina to carry on an affair and then lied about it as you would to a small child with a tiny vocabulary."  This is of course without touching the fact that Vitter, Sanford and Ensign all run on moralizing platforms that one can only really claim a right to when their beatific purity actually renders them unable to wear anything but flowing white robes and a halo in public. 

I want to scratch my eyes out because this business has made me agree with Michael Steele, who has done nothing but irritate me since he was named RNC chair and apparently plans to continue doing so even though he has left the post, because he went on Rachel Maddow's show and said "I heard what [current RNC chairman Reince Priebus] said today and I thought it was a little bit not right.  A pox on both their houses because they violated the public trust." Of course, this demonstrates the classic adage about three fingers pointing back at you when you point one at someone, since Steele was at the helm during the Vitter, Ensign and Sanford scandals, but that doesn't mean he's wrong. 

The thing is, this is about more than the loss of Anthony Weiner.  New York has some redistricting coming and there's a good chance his district could have been eliminated.  He could have failed to be reelected.  He could have vaporized into the Bermuda Triangle.  What is most upsetting about this is not only the loss of Anthony Weiner but the victory of the GOP's weltanschaaung over the Democrat party's political will.  By shaming Weiner out of office, the Democrats have accepted the Republican line that says Democrats are bad for not meeting the GOP's moral "standard" (GOP members' transgressions aside, of course), that Democrats aren't focused, that Democrats are evil sex-beasts of some kind.  Giving in to this allows Speaker John Boehner to call "the Weiner imbroglio a "distraction," saying voters wanted Congress to focus on job creation" when his GOP-lead Congress, which was unquestionably elected on their promises to focus on jobs creation, has brought ZERO jobs bills to the floor in over one hundred days, despite the fact that they apparently had PLENTY of time to almost shut down the government by attaching policy riders to a budget bill (indicating not only a lack of seriousness and professionalism but a general misunderstanding of how the budget process works).  It allows the GOP to continue blowing smoke up the collective asses of Americans who are worried and want real change to overcome the economic and political crises in which we find ourselves. 

This all goes beyond the Weiner scandal itself, of course.  The Democrats have seated themselves permanently on the defensive, trying to satisfy Republican demands so people who are being mean to them will stop.  They've adopted Oliver Twist as a role model, begging for more gruel while the GOP proposes outrageous and damaging policies that will worsen our recession and demolish the political system we love.  The Democrat party has accepted the GOP line that says Democrats hate America, want to steal your money, want to spend it to spend it, don't take defense seriously...all the bullshit claims that are leveled at me, at the people I support, at the ideas I espouse, every time I have a political conversation, which have zero truth to them whatsoever.  Every time the Democrats go on the defensive in this way, they ACCEPT these claims, and I am sick of it.  I'm sick of my party, which I have supported since I was 12, sticking stamps on envelopes in the first of many cramped campaign offices, agreeing on my behalf that we really are just jerks who are given space in governance out of pity and need to be watched carefully. 

I want desperately to see liberals standing up in robust promotion of liberalism, of the idea that caring for the whole brings the best for the individual as well as the whole.  I want Democrats to walk the walk, of course, but right now, I just want to hear them talking the talk.  I want them to carry JFK's words from the 1960 New York Liberal Party acceptance speech in their pockets, next to their hearts: "If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people - their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties - someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal,' then I', proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'"  And you know what?  Kennedy didn't always abide by those words - some of his policies were a horrorshow - but that he was willing to stand up and say those words, to muster that defense of liberalism, is noble and entirely lacking in today's political discourse, even though those words - that liberal dogma - are no less true today.

Democrats have failed to embrace this and to bear up the torch of liberalism as the GOP hacks gleefully away at the policies and programs that have made us one of the greatest nations in the world.  That is a shame.  The Weiner resignation is the latest and perhaps clearest admission of defeat, and the Democrat leadership should be ashamed for their part in it.

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