Now that Anthony Weiner has announced his resignation, I figure I should at least record some of my thoughts on the matter.
Basically, I agree with Gene Healy of Cato both here, and here.
Some choice quotations:
“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good old-fashioned political sex scandal. They’re entertaining, and they may even be edifying — reminding us that self-styled “public servants” are often less responsible, more venal, and just plain dumber than those they seek to rule.”
“But one of the few perks of being a libertarian is that you get to enjoy twice as many scandals. Politics is one big smorgasbord of schadenfreude.”
“So have a guilt-free laugh about Weinergate. Not only are political sex scandals great fun, they serve an important social purpose. They remind us that we should think twice before we cede more power to these clowns.”
“By reminding us of how untrustworthy and reckless these people can be–how little control they often exhibit in their own lives–political sex scandals may even serve an important social purpose: they remind us that we should think twice before granting them more control over ours.”
I don’t have much interest in Anthony Weiner’s penis, but I care a great deal about what the big prick it is attached to was doing in office.
So, I was a little conflicted about whether I wanted him to resign. I don’t think his online activities (as far as I know) should disqualify him for office, but what’s logical doesn’t have much to do with politics. So, I thought about the practical consequences.
On one hand, he’s a consistent vote for the wrong side of the big issues, so his leaving would probably improve the distribution in the House and would remove a vocal advocate of dangerously wrongheaded policies.
But, on the other hand, his remaining in office would serve as an even greater reminder that many politicians cannot be trusted; they lie enthusiastically whenever they think it might further their careers, and they behave with idiotic recklessness whenever they think they can get away with it.
Many people thought it was important to remove him from office because his scandal impeded his ability to perform his duties as a legislator, and it tarnished the entire institution.
To me, that’s a good thing. What he and his allies were doing in office was damage. And, the romantic image of politicians as brilliant, honorable, agents of good is dangerously wrong. Their competence is at winning elections; not deciding how to solve all of our problems with giant programs and totalitarian restrictions of liberty.
I’d prefer that they all wear clown suits.
If I can’t have that, then constant reminders of how wrong the government-as-trustworthy-problem-solver model is are better than nothing.
So, thanks for the reminder Mr. Weiner, and thanks for getting out of our lives.
I wish your colleagues would do the same.