When I first heard about the scandal involving Congressman Anthony Weiner and the inappropriate photos that were taken of his private parts, I couldn't have cared less. To me, Weiner is simply a big-government liberal who is pretty much like everyone else in Washington, D.C. — part of the problem. If Weiner ends up being voted out of office by his liberal district, they would probably elect another candidate just like him. If he is thrown out of office for being a sexual pervert, the same sort of replacement would likely occur. Scandal or no scandal, Weiner's ultimate fate does little to advance the cause of limited government, so I simply don't care what happens to him.
When I first heard that Gov. Mark Sanford had cheated on his wife with his Argentinian mistress, it immediately depressed me. A true fiscal conservative and the lone governor to stand up to President Obama's so-called "stimulus" spending, Sanford was one of the few Republicans dedicated to reining in government spending. Even before the scandal, I worried that Sanford's successor would be just another conventional big-government Republican. Post-scandal, I worried that Sanford might be forced to resign, thus making way for some handpicked GOP hack. Scandal or no, Sanford's ultimate fate concerned me precisely because I did not want to see one of the few Republicans serious about limiting government banished from the political stage.
This is not to say I supported or even excused Sanford's infidelity. I didn't then, and I don't now. Similarly, Weiner seems to be living up to his name, and now the creepy confessor deserves whatever bad fortune comes his way. But as far as I'm concerned, both men are first and foremost politicians. Their worth or worthlessness to me is based entirely on their politics.
But what about character, some might ask? Doesn't someone's personal judgment say much about their political judgment? Perhaps it does. Ideally, I would prefer to support only political leaders who exhibited basic morality and common decency. The problem is such idealism often clashes with political reality.
For example, by all accounts Barack Obama is a morally upstanding and decent family man. To our knowledge, the president is a good father and a loving husband. We have little reason to believe otherwise. For conservatives, does this make Obama a preferable leader over someone like Sanford? Likewise, would liberals really prefer a morally wholesome conservative to a big-government sleaze bag like Weiner?
The latter is easier to discern. After all, many liberals initially declined to demand the resignation of Weiner in the same manner they would have if a Republican had been caught in similar scandal. Yes, in supporting liberal leaders, the Democrats have always been able to enjoy the less politically constrictive standards of social liberalism characteristic of the Left.
In just the past five years, Republicans like Congressmen Mark Foley (who sent sexually explicit text messages to a teenage boy), Mark Souder (who had an affair with a staffer), Chris Lee (who sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman on Craigslist), and, of course, Sen. Larry Craig (who had a questionable encounter with another man in a restroom) all resigned from office after their peccadilloes became public knowledge. If Weiner keeps his office, it will be due in large part to the socially liberal attitude of his party. Bill Clinton can attest to this.
And the Left might actually be onto something. When I think of the chronic immorality of Washington leaders, my first thoughts are not about tweeted private parts and Argentinian mistresses. I think of a government that believes in taking the fruit of a man's labor and redistributing it as it sees fit. I think of a government that sends America's sons and daughters off to fight in mindless wars for no clear or defined reasons. I think of a government that runs roughshod over the Constitution as both habit and sport. And I think of the immorality of burdening the next generation, their children, and grandchildren with unfathomable debt, which devalues our currency and damages our country.
One need not go searching for these immoral government acts on Twitter or in the National Enquirer when they can be found in any news headline at any given moment. Yes, Anthony Weiner and his sex life are unquestionably sad and pathetic, but so is the lopsided amount of attention America pays to such trivialities when you consider the routine immoral behavior committed in Washington every day by even the most personally wholesome politicians.
Jack Hunter co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Southern Avenger commentaries can be heard every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd on 1250 AM WTMA.