2011-06-17 / Columnists

The Rockaway Beat

First Stunned, Then Angry And, Finally, Disappointed And Saddened
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Watching Congressman Anthony Weiner disassemble on television on Monday afternoon was painful.

I have always supported Weiner, believing him to be one of the good guys.

He came relatively often to The Wave, bringing stories and jokes, filling us in on what was going on in Washington and in the rest of the district.

He worked hard on issues that matter to the peninsula. If he could not do something, he would tell you. He kept his promises to the best of his ability.

I have always said that all politicians are whores, but I did not believe that Weiner fell into that category.

Until now.

When Weiner said that his Twitter account had been hacked, I believed him, convinced that nothing good will come to either a journalist or politician who gets too tied up in the social media and forgets what his or her job really is.

I called his office and spoke with Dave Arnold, his local press aide, offering The Wave as a vehicle for him to tell his Rockaway constituents the truth about what was going on. I never heard back, and that led me to believe that there might just be something to the breaking news stories.

It became harder to believe his veracity as the story unfolded.

By the time Weiner stood before the cameras for his mea culpa, it was damned near impossible to believe that he was not, at the very least, very stupid.

I was therefore stunned, when he tearfully told the millions watching his news conference that he had not told the truth to the nation or his constituents; that he had in fact used his Twitter account and email for lewd discussions with at least six women.

I was shocked. Then, I was angry that he had not manned up and told the truth right away. When he said he lied to save his wife’s feelings, it sounded hollow. He would have saved his wife’s feelings far better if he had kept his thumbs off his Blackberry in the first place.

When I got over being angry, I skulked back to my desk, saddened and disappointed that the man whom I considered the best next hope as mayor of New York City, the man who really cares for middle class New Yorkers, had destroyed his career by sending ultrastupid messages to a series of women, some of whom had a sordid past and a reason to become famous by outing Weiner.

He had to know that one of his online correspondents would use his missives to bury him and gain fame for herself. That is exactly what happened.

How stupid could he be? Very stupid.

Conservative columnist Joanna Molloy, writing in the Daily News, led her column on June 8 by writing, “So Anthony Weiner’s reputation – and probably his career – are totally ruined and he didn’t even get any – actual sex that is.

“Oh, how low have we gone? A sexless sex scandal.”

Which gets to the crux of the matter in my mind – what law did Weiner break?

Unlike former President Bill Clinton, who has now become a senior statesman, Weiner can say, “I never had sex with that woman,” and be truthful.

Are telephone sex or “sexting,” the same as cheating on your wife or husband?

Some, mostly women, say yes, that when you do something sexual in nature that you would not do in front of your spouse, then it is cheating.

I say that’s ridiculous. People do things every day that they would rather not do in front of their spouses, and they are not breaking the law in any way (unless of course, it’s a criminal act).

Most men say that cheating has to include actual sex. Weiner did not get that far with any of the women.

Although he probably could have, if he were within a few hundred miles of any of them.

Look at the three women who have come forward, each bringing emails and tweets that they saved and agreed (presumably for money) to provide to the media.

Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mom from Texas, who provided the photos that Weiner at first said he did not send. A photo of her in a suggestive pose, wearing a wide-open shirt, appeared in some of the daily papers.

Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old blackjack dealer in Las Vegas, who says she sexted with Weiner for nine months, beginning last August. Her texts and tweets were the most suggestive of all, because she led Weiner in that direction (not that he needed much leading).

Ginger Lee, former porn star who allegedly sexted with Weiner for months and provided the photos of the Congressman that appeared on TMZ. The photos of Lee that appeared in the New York Post were enough to draw readers from near and far.

I am not excusing Weiner’s behavior, and he probably has taken himself out of the 2013 mayoral race, but I do not think he should resign his position in the House of Representatives.

Let the electorate decide in the next election whether or not they want him to remain.

If there is still a seat for him to run for.

Political insiders say that one Democratic and one Republican seat must go in the redistricting that is now in process. With Weiner vulnerable, that seat might well be his, a move that would impact Rockaway.

Most, including the president, now say that Weiner must go. The question is, would you rather have Greg Meeks, a man under invistigation by various law enforcement agencies? Would you rather have Joe Crowley, who knows little about Rockaway and it’s problems?

Think about it.

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