Weiner, Spitzer, and Other Shameful Characters

OK, so I can’t pass up this topic.

For my extraterrestrial readers, Eliot Spitzer, former governor who resigned in a prostitution scandal, and Anthony Weiner, former congressman who resigned in a sexting scandal, are now running for New York City comptroller and mayor respectively. (And Vito Lopez, finally forced to resign as state assemblyman for serial sexual harassments, is running for city council.)

Weiner's weiner

Weiner’s weiner

And now it comes out that the married Weiner (a/k/a Carlos Danger) engaged in even more and even dirtier stuff with even more women, since his resignation. (Alas, Spitzer may now seem almost clean by comparison.)

I never liked any of them. Spitzer and Weiner were both “progressive” blowhards. Spitzer was acclaimed as the “Sheriff of Wall Street;” I thought him a bully who abused his position and the law to curry popular favor shaking down unpopular targets. His governorship was a disaster even before the sex thing because he foolishly continued to act the bully. Weiner was no legislator, just a self-promoting publicity hound.

Neither man’s prior accomplishments merited the “redemption” implicitly sought by their new campaigns. Neither did anything to earn restored trust. In Spitzer’s case, his failed governorship was followed by a failed stint as a political pundit. In Weiner’s, nothing except his (ahem) naked ambition.

And speaking of political pundits, Dr. Alan Chartock, head of WAMC, the local National Public Radio station, has been on the air relentlessly insisting (with typical insults toward contrary opinions, e.g. by Rex Smith, Albany Times-Union editor) that calls for Weiner to quit the race are wrong, and voters should decide. That’s almost as loopy as Weiner’s behavior itself.

San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego Union-Tribune

True, he has a right to run, and voters a right to back him. But Anthony Weiner is one very sick puppy, whose conduct shows deranged detachment from reality. “Let voters decide” makes no sense; entrusting high office to such a man is out of the question, and his quitting would not somehow wrongfully deny voters an opportunity to elect him.

And speaking of detachment from reality, Chartock also says Weiner’s quitting would destroy his political future. What political future? While Chartock cites Weiner’s leading the polls – with twenty-something percent in a fractured field – that predated the latest blow-up. Any fool would know Weiner is finished. (A new poll shows him running fourth.)

Furthermore, in criticizing newspaper calls for Weiner to quit, Chartock implicitly impugns the whole idea of editorializing. As the ever polite Rex Smith patiently observed, it would mean newspapers never endorsing candidates – just “let voters decide.”

images-2Chartock denies this, insisting his point is rather that the media has been too eager – or is too infuriated by Weiner’s disobedience – or something. But no matter how it’s parsed, it amounts to saying the media has no business saying what it’s saying.

Surely newspapers have a right to weigh in on such matters. Just as Chartock himself has the right to state his opinion.* But such a bizarre, nonsensical opinion shreds his credibility as a political pundit (professor emeritus of political science though he may be). He too should quit.

*However (as I’ve said before), Chartock’s blatant on-air partisanship is indefensible for a radio station receiving public money through both direct grants and tax deductibility of contributions.

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