[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

It's Not the Crime, It's the Coverup
11 June 2011

[Smashy the Hammer Logo] I'm rather bemused by the coverage of the Anthony Weiner 'sexting' scandal. But, to be fair, I was bemused by the Clinton-Lewinski scandal. Heck, pretty much any of the political sex scandals of the last twenty or so years bemuse me. Why? Because they all illustrate a basic point: politicians just don't seem to learn. If Nixon taught us anything, he taught us that, as the title says, "It's Not the Crime, It's the Coverup." Many of us, including myself, don't give a rat's ... hindquarters ... who a politician marries, sleeps with or sends racy pictures to. I don't even care if you take a wide stance in a restroom. But, and this is important, when you lie to me, to the electorate, and to the US at large, I do give a rat's-whatever. Or several. A whole pack of rat's-naughty-bits.

Elliot Spitzer, Dominque Strauss-Kahn, and let's not forget Mister I-only-cheated-on-my-wife-because-I'm-a-Patriot Newt Gingrich have all behaved badly, and, at least in the first and last cases, lied about it to the public. One wonders, does being a politician make you a scumbag, do you have to be a scumbag to get elected, or do people who aren't scumbags avoid becoming politicians? (I apologize to all the non-scumbag politicians out there for this gross generalization. You both know who you are.)

So, why, oh why, do you folks keep making the same damn mistakes, over and over and over? I mean, really ... imagine this scenario .. Weiner sends the now-infamous twitpic (or tweet or ... whatever, it's really irrelevant) and then says, "You know what? I did it. It was stupid and I'm sorry." Some of us, I suspect most of us would think something like, "Heck, I've done stupid things too. Here's a Congressman with the stones to 'fess up and tell us, the electorate, the truth." It's like Eddie Izzard says in one of his routines, "What a strong personality that person has. I like to have sex with people with strong personalities." When you come to think of it, that rather defeats the purpose, but still ... we might still want to vote for people with strong personalities.

But he doesn't tell the truth, he lies about it. Badly. And then backpedals. And now instead of a peccadillo (although to be fair, more than a peccadillo in his wife's eyes, I suspect) he's faced with a huge loss of credibility. Not because he did something dumb, but because he lied about it and expected us to believe it. (And to be fair, for a while we did. We wanted to ...)

And that's the point, really. What really sticks in my craw, and many people's craws. (Those of us that have craws, at least.) Is this: how stupid do these people think we are? "I was hacked. OK, I might not have been hacked. Alright, I sent it. But I didn't mean it. I didn't inhale. I did not have sex with that woman. I am not a crook." For heaven's sake! We've seen this for forty years! I mean, those of us who are more than forty years old have. Anyone younger than forty has seen it their entire life! For that matter, I doubt Nixon invented lying to the public ...

And, to compound matters, many in the media are complicit in this. Poniewozik in Time, Time!, talks about it as if Twitter is the concern, and gives a bare sentence or two to the attempted and botched cover-up. Are we, as a nation, so obsessed with sex that we think it's more problematic for a middle-aged man to send a racy picture to someone who, we are led to believe, was a not-unwilling recipient, than we think it is problematic for an elected Congressman to tell us bold-faced lie after lie?

And, ultimately, the politicos don't get it. Poniewozik quotes Weiner as saying, "What I did was a mistake. There's nothing inherently wrong with social media." Absolutely true, and absolutely beside the point. The mistake is lying to the public, whether you do it on Twitter, Facebook, Fox News or Comedy Central.

So let's get one thing straight. If we're going to convict Anthony Weiner in the court of public opinion, and I think we are, let's at least convict him of the right crime: perjury.

© 2011 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite