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My Anthony Weiner apology, in his own words

Weiner I'd just like to tell all of you how sorry I am.

When I heard that the Twitter feed of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) included a photo of an underwear-clad man's crotch, I wrote that I was "inclined to believe" that Weiner was hacked.

Clearly, I've written things I deeply regret. I am not, however, resigning from The Times' editorial board. I don't believe I made improper use of any Times resources or that I violated the Times' code of conduct.

Giving Weiner the benefit of the doubt was a very dumb thing to do. It wasn't part of a plan. If you're looking for some kind of explanation for it, I don't have one. I haven't ruled out professional help. But this is not something that can be treated away.

I treated the Weiner episode as a frivolous thing, not acknowledging that it would cause harm to so many people.

My blogging was completely consensual. To the best of my knowledge, my readers were all adults. I have never blogged outside my marriage.

I'm not making any excuses for my behavior. I don't do drugs. I wasn't drinking when I blogged about Weiner. I'm not looking to point blame and share responsibility with anyone.

There's nothing inherently wrong with social media. There's nothing inherently wrong with these outlets. What I did was a mistake.

I love my wife very much, and we have no intention of splitting up over this.*

Related:

Weinergate: A curious scandal

Anthony Weiner: No photographic memory of his underwear drawer

Rep. Anthony Weiner, tweeting with fire

-- Jon Healey

*Although I have to confess to copying virtually every sentence in this post from Weiner's statements at his news conference.

Credit: Jin Lee / Bloomberg

 

Comments () | Archives (15)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Jeff Shapiro

Mr. Neal:

While your posting made me grin and I thank you for that, there IS a serious undertone here. While you acted in good faith and upon the best information available at the time, Congressman Weiner did not. He lied, denied and prevaricated for an entire week, and only came forward when it became apparent that his misdeeds were wider spread and more serious than that first lewd photograph.

He deceived the press, his constituency and (presumably) his own wife. In doing so, he brought his personal character into sharp focus, and he is lacking in that character. By refusing to acknowledge this and resign as other (mostly conservative) congressmen have done, his lack of character continues to be exhibited. He is in essense saying, "I'm special. I don't have to abide by the same moral rules that these other schmucks did", and that's wrong.

The public and the congress should be outraged and demand his resignation. There can be no separate standard for behavior that depends on which side of the aisle you're sitting on. The Congressman needs to resign, get help with what is obviously a sex addiction and rehabilitate himself and his image. Should he run for Mayor of NYC, he'd better be able to show that in the intervening time, he's grown up.

Jeff Shapiro

PLEASE don't ask me where the "Mr. Neal" came from, I have not a clue. You are, of course, Jon Healey, and I am, of course, careless. My apologies.

Jon Healey

@Jeff -- I was frankly torn between trying to acknowledge quickly that I was taken in and delving more deeply into what Weiner's apology means as a matter of public policy. But my gut feeling is that your "moral rules" standard would simply favor the discreet over the blatant, or the good secret-keepers over the lousy ones.

I don't think anybody should resign from Congress for being a bad or immoral person. There would be too many permanent vacancies. What should get people booted is a misuse of their office. And all we've heard on that front has been Weiner's denials.

Chris Lee resigned because he was ashamed, and maybe he needed to do that for his own or his family's sake. I wouldn't have called for it -- I'd never heard of the guy prior to the FB thing, frankly.

If you were sent to office on a morals platform that you then violate egregiously, it makes sense to step down. The hypocrisy standard is pretty universal. But maybe you don't see Dems like Anthony Weiner or Bill Clinton stepping down when they stray because they don't seek to legislate morality, at least not to the extent Republicans do.

scott

Have you seen my baseball? Have you seen my Wiener?
LOL ...hahhhahahahahhahahhaha

Robert

So I am to believe that since Democrats don't attempt to legislate morality that they are then excused for exhibiting some morals?! That is the problem with the world in which we live. If more people held others to the task of trying to be moral, without condemning, we all have flaws, then maybe we can begin to try to improve this country.

Lazy Reader

This cheap sarcasm lends itself to predictable jokes that have no underlying content other than to say, "scandals are silly".

Jon Healey

@Robert -- I don't mean to sound as if I'm excusing bad behavior. Jeff wondered why Dems don't seem to resign in the face of morals scandals as quickly as Republicans do, which is why I made that particular point. My guess is that Libertarians wouldn't feel compelled to resign either, again because they see a wide separation between government's proper role and personal misbehavior.

Pasquino Marforio

Did he promise to be faithful, in a public setting, with his friends and family all assembled as witnesses?

Maybe he promised to be faithful until someone better came along on Twitter or Craig's List.

He did more than break a promise to his wife.

Did he promise to Support And Defend The Constitution Of The United States, in a public setting, with his friends and family all assembled as witnesses?

Maybe he promised to be faithful until something better was offered.

He needs to leave.

These are trying times, when the distrust of government has never been higher.

He needs to leave now.

JVW

Hey Jon Healey:

Given your point that Dems (unlike Republicans) don't resign when caught in compromising situations because they don't seek to legislate moral behavior, why is someone like Charlie Rangel -- who has made a whole career out of trying to legislate tax compliance behavior -- still in Congress even after so assiduously avoiding his tax obligations?

Isn't the real answers that big-shot Democrat politicians don't think the rules apply to them? This goes, by the way, for a certain breed of Republican politician who until recently was highly visible in Sacramento.

Steve

A quick primer for this day and age: If someone says their (insert name of social media platform here) was hacked, they're lying. Don't believe another word they say. It's really that simple.

JVW

To further my theme: Republican Bill Janklow drives recklessly, kills an innocent woman, and resigns his House seat. Democrat Ted Kennedy drives recklessly (and almost assuredly drunkenly), kills an innocent woman, and gets reelected to the Senate for the next 30 years. Democrat Gerry Studs has a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old Congressional page, is censured by the House, and continues to be reelected to Congress. Republican Dan Crane has a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old Congressional page, is censured by the House, and is (appropriately) denied reelection by his constituents in the next election cycle.

What exactly does a Democrat have to do to either be ashamed enough to resign from Congress or to have his or her constituents deny reelection? Lots of cash in the freezer, a la William Jefferson, or a whole ton of House merchandise in the basement like Dan Rostenkowski? Those seem to be exceptions to the rule. It probably requires that the congressperson engage in a profitable free enterprise business that does not seek government subsidies or contracts. That's about the only thing that it would seem would bother Democrats.

Jeff Shapiro

@Jon -You make a very good point about favoring the stealthy, but if we had a single standard, either de facto OR de jure that all public officials are held to then we are leveling the playing field (no pun intended). The Republicans have set the bar very low: If you dishonor your office, you need to go. Conversely, Democrats have set it rather high: If you are convicted of breaking the law, you need to go (unless we really need you). I cite one Rangel, Charles as an example. $70,000 in his refrigerator? Puhleeeze.

As to not having people resign from Congress because they are "bad or immoral", I have to disagree strenuously. Bad or immoral people shouldn't have gotten there in the first place, and some become bad and/or immoral after they get there because the environment encourages it. You end up with people who believe that they get a pass on their personal behavior because they are "doing the greater good". To set double standards like that puts me in mind of the old Soviet Politburo, who amassed great wealth and influence in the name of protecting the proletariat. Eventually it became all about the wealth and power, and nothing about the proletariat.

I did get one good giggle out of your response. Republicans seek to legislate morality *because* Democrats seek to marginalize it (and I personally don't condone either). Once upon a time morality was a personal asset, like the strength of your name or your handshake. When that becomes negotiable, we're all in trouble.

Which brings me back to my original point. He has dishonored his office and therefore, to regain any semblance of honor, he needs to go.

As to permanent vacancies, there are ways to avoid that, including impressment. I think it was Robert Heinlein who wrote, "We want someone who has to be dragged kicking and screaming into office, but that once there, will do the job to the best of his ability." Impossible and idealistic, but the concept makes me smile.

Jon Healey

@Jeff -- Good points. Again, I was too glib in my response. Voters shouldn't put jerks in office, but they do, again and again. The enormous self-confidence it takes to win and hold a seat in Congress leads some of those folks to ugly places. Some of them are dark and personal, others are an abuse of power. I think it's fair to distinguish between the two, but I also acknowledge that the line can be very, very blurry -- and that one can lead to another.

Jeff Shapiro

@Jon -- I think we're still firing across each other's bow with regard to accountability for morality while in public office.

The current congressional problem stems from the fact that the old standards (discipline, censure, expulsion) were set when it was actually much easier to misbehave. The press would stay away from private lives of public individuals, so only true malfeasance in office would trip levers of discipline.

Those days are gone forever. Like it or not, we hold our elected officials to a higher standard than we used to, and the pervasiveness of technology makes it easier to do so. So far, the bulk of Rebublicans have enbraced these higher standards and those who violate them are often shamed out of office by their own colleagues. Democrats by and large have not, arguing that even if you can see it, it's irrelevant to the performance of their duties.

Even though it's a higher standard, I personally embrace it, simply because that's what's expected of ME as a private citizen, not because the wind blows from the right. Every person, public or private, should be expected to behave Legally, Ethically and Morally and to expect consequences when they do not.

That's what bothers me about Congressman Weiner's situation. He spends a week getting turds dropped on his head from the press, perhaps a little longer period of marital discord, and then it's business as usual. When you or I screw up this bad, there are CONSEQUENCES, but when a liberal member of congress does it, it's just "Well, bless his horny little heart, a week of shame ought to put him back in his place." What's forgotten here is that he got into this situation becasue he HAD no shame in the first place.

Maybe he's getting all the outrage that should have been heaped on Charlie Rangel. Maybe in the great grand scheme of things it is a minor peccadillo. But we're travelling down a very bad road at high velocity, and someone needs to step on the brakes. It's just Mr. Weiner's bad luck to be sitting at the wheel this time.

Robert

Watching Anthony Weiner in tears, apologizing to Breibart, in order to keep more revealing photos from being exposed... Pathetic, yet comical.


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