When a politician sex scandal hits, the only real question after the facts have been established, is "do I care?" If you don't care then it's best to be equal-opportunity about it. Don't care when it's someone in your party, and don't care when it's someone in the other party. This is, of course, hard for many people to do. It's easy to accept bad behavior from your own, much easier to judge those you would oppose anyway.
Personally, I care. I care when it's someone in the other party and when it's someone in mine. It matters to me that our elected officials have integrity in their family lives. They're public officials, they work for us, and they are supposed to act with decorum. They represent us and I expect them to behave accordingly.
Most exposed sex scandals divide people along these "I care" / "I don't care" lines. This Anthony Weiner scandal was different because it was so obvious to so many that he did what he was accused of doing but his protestations of innocence, and the fact that he seemed to cop to some embarrassing revelations and not others, brought out a whole host of defenders who savagely attacked the messengers. They made up reasons why he couldn't deny certain things and did so with vicious rage at those who didn't believe the Congressman:
"A lot of people here have gotten hung up on the fact that Rep. Weiner has been less than unequivocal about denying that it's him in the infamous photo. Several of the more annoying ones, having apparently taken leave of their senses, have even chosen to believe that this means Andrew Breitbart is right. These people are, of course, wrong, but if we would head off this nonsense, those of us with functioning brains must reluctantly give some consideration to understanding why the good Mr. Weiner might not be able to categorically deny that the photo is of him."
Weiner proclaimed himself a victim and his supporters treated him as such. In the comments on my own post on this blog I was accused of "smearing" the Congressman when in actuality I was pointing out that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Lest you think I limit my assumptions to Democrats, I called that Mark Sanford was having an affair and not hiking any Appalachian Trail long before it became the common wisdom. And I had wanted Sanford for president!
We live in an age where it's very hard to keep secrets, except if you're Arnold Schwarzenegger for some reason, and because of this it's always better for a politician to come clean when caught between a rock and... the truth. As late as last night, some liberal bloggers were putting together elaborate theories on how a hacking might have occurred. Andrew Breitbart became a target because he challenged Weiner's statements. At least Weiner apologized to him by name but as Jonah Goldberg points out he didn't apologize for the right reasons:
It was also good for him to apologize to Andrew Breitbart and “anyone else he misled.” But that’s not what he did wrong to Andrew Breitbart and others. He encouraged people to make Breitbart et al into the villains in this story. The sin there is not misleading but a kind of bearing false witness, a variant of slander.
We live in a divided country, it's true that's not Anthony Weiner's fault, but Weiner let 10 days go by where his surrogates attacked anyone trying to establish the truth. This is not behavior befitting a Congressman. He should go because he sent lewd photos to young women. He must go because he lied about it and let our country's divisions worsen and deepen to protect himself.