Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for June 9th, 2011

Why Weiner’s Behavior Warrants the “Truly Horrible” Label

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Over the past few days, I’ve resisted the temptation to kick Representative Anthony Weiner, D-NY, while he’s down.  Weiner, as you probably know, has been in the news for the past two weeks due to having a picture of him, in his underwear, published inadvertently on Twitter.  Weiner lied about this initially, claiming he had been “hacked.”  He admitted on Monday that this picture really was him (the one in his underwear), and said other pictures existed, some conversations with women not his wife existed also (before and after his marriage to Huma Abedin, one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aides at the State Department), and that he was “deeply ashamed” and really, really “sorry.”

So, since I resisted saying anything up until now, you might be wondering what has changed.  Two things, really.  First, Weiner’s wife Abedin is reportedly pregnant with their first child, which makes all of Weiner’s behavior (including a nude photo of Weiner’s “equipment,” which surfaced today) even more sophomoric than it already was — and second, I got to thinking.

Look.  I’ve known people — myself included, with my wonderful, late husband Michael — who got to know each other online, mind to mind, before they ever got into physical proximity** (we’re talking long-distance relationships, here — committed, monogamous ones).  Or perhaps one of the pair had to take a job far away from the other — hundreds or thousands of miles — and to keep the “home fires” burning, the pair may well have sent scantily-clad pictures of themselves in order to encourage fidelity.   Or maybe the pair had intimate phone conversations.  Anything, to keep the relationship — a monogamous, consensual, committed relationship — on track.

It takes a lot for me to call behavior “truly horrible.”  Usually when I slap that label on it, we’re talking about one political party behaving badly and doing stupid things, not a juvenile, irresponsible man over 40 who can’t keep his pants zipped when he has a wonderful wife at home.

And make no mistake — what Weiner did is definitely cheating.   He talked about sex with women (not his wife, when his marriage was still a going, vital concern), and presumably acted on his desires.  That’s cheating.  Period.

To be clear, I do not believe Weiner should resign from Congress.  But I do think his behavior was terrible and reflected very poorly not only upon him and how he conceives of marriage, but makes anyone who’s trying to use cyberspace and/or the telephone to keep a long-distance relationship going feel like they’re either doing something sleazy, or have already done it.

I feel terribly sad for Abedin, who knows her husband has not been faithful to her and did not take his wedding vows seriously.   And I feel even sadder for Weiner, who not only didn’t realize the jewel he had (and for the moment still has) in his wife, but went around cheapening himself — and everyone else who uses alternative means to remain close to his or her committed partner — because he was too damned stupid to know any better.  Or care, either.

All of these thoughts make me wish once again my husband was still alive, because I’m sure he’d have something interesting, funny, scathing, or possibly all three at once about the Weiner set of scandals.  But I truly wish I weren’t thinking about him — the most wonderful man in the world, the most wonderful person the Deity ever created — in this context.

Thanks a lot, Anthony Weiner.  Really.

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** In my case, Michael and I met once, at a mutual friend’s house, then I went home to one state and Michael went home to another state, hundreds of miles away.   We relied on our mutual friends (we had several) to help us out when the inevitable miscommunications arose — and ultimately, being so far away from each other helped our relationship immensely because we had to learn to communicate or our relationship wouldn’t survive.  That’s how cyberspace, and the telephone, can help a relationship — whereas what Weiner did just shows how a stupid man can screw up his life with the latest, up-to-date technology.