I told former Representative Chris Lee when he abruptly resigned in February that he would not be at the back of the line of unfaithful politicians for long. Perhaps I should claim an award for precognition but really, it’s a no-brainer. Philandering (almost always male) politicians are a dime a dozen, and every couple of months at most another one gets caught. The latest, of course, was Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY) who was exposed by the puritanical and anally obsessed conservative Andrew Brietbart for the political sin of posting pictures of his, well, wiener on YFrog, which is a sort of Twitter server optimized for linking Twitter content to pictures.
Like Chris Lee, Weiner does not appear to have done anything actually illegal. Unlike former executive of Prince Georges County Maryland, Jack B. Johnson, Weiner won’t be going to prison for accepting more than $400,000 in bribes. Rather, Weiner is guilty in the court of public opinion of “emotional infidelity”, general stupidity and the egregious misuse of Twitter to badly seduce women over the internet. He did this by sending pictures of what appears to be his erect penis masked behind some briefs (and allegedly more explicit pictures) to one or more women not his wife over the Internet, none of whom he actually met. Weiner apologized to his wife and family and says he plans to stay in Congress. No other member of Congress will come within a hundred feet of him, of course, probably because they are afraid they will get cooties. Washington’s neo-Puritans, of course, are calling for his head. Thou shalt have no member of Congress who cannot successfully mask his or her sexual urges for someone other than their spouse because, as we all know, one moral slip means you cannot do your job.
Occasionally though a politician finds himself with his pants down publicly and manages to hang on anyhow. Bill Clinton did it, even though it was pretty clear that he was guilty of perjury. I too might have perjured myself rather than admit I had an oral affair with a buxom and comely office intern half my age. (I might have bragged about it in the shower room, however.) Clinton was impeached anyhow, but not convicted. His bar license was taken away from him, but he left office happily, established charities, worked for international peace and made tons of money as a speaker and author. In fact, he left office with some of the highest approval ratings of any president, in spite of his sins. It turned out that Americans judged their president more by whether they had a job and their standard of living increased than about a minor bit of philandering and lying about sex. So my advice to Andrew Weiner: if you were as effective as they say you are, hang in there anyhow. You may be guilty of emotional infidelity (what exactly is that anyhow?) and, like Chris Lee, bad judgment likely due in part to your sky high testosterone levels, but your work in Congress until now has been excellent.
I will not claim that I am holier than Andrew Weiner. I can truthfully state that I have not sent pictures of my privates over the Internet. Why would I feel the need to do so? It helps for me to be married, of course, but my experience with women is they are much more interested in the whole person than your junk, so if you really want to seduce a woman on the Internet, do it with your words, not pictures of your crotch. Also, I suspect I am not as “gifted” as Weiner.
However, if I was gay, then I might have sent such a lewd photo because guys, regardless of their sexual orientation, find penises professionally interesting. We find pictures of penises in relation to other mostly naked people arranged in a prurient fashion particularly interesting. Unlike ladies, we don’t need a mirror to see our private parts. If we didn’t touch our private parts multiple times a day, we would soil our clothes. If I was gay and hunting for a hot date over the internet, and I might be able to close the deal for a meeting with a picture of my privates, I might have done it. I certainly would not have done it using my real name, however.
Andrew Weiner is guilty of stupidity, something that happens to otherwise intelligent men more frequently than we would care to admit. It is likelier to happen particularly when our testosterone levels are high, or our spouses are on their periods or (like many spouses) they just aren’t in the mood to fool around, which sometimes can go on for months. Insurance actuaries can attest that high testosterone causes otherwise sensible teenage boys to wrap their cars and themselves around telephone poles, and even the smart students do it, but perhaps less often. In middle age, high testosterone sometimes makes men like Andrew Weiner send pictures of their engorged underwear to very unlikely romantic prospects electronically over the Internet. In earlier generations these guys acted more like Andy Capp, hung out at the local tavern and pinched the bums of the local wenches. We’re so much more discreet about it now that we have the Internet thing. We’ve come a long way, baby.
Weiner is a reasonably handsome guy, but he must have realized that his chances of scoring a home run were about one in a thousand. What this did for him, at least for a short while, is scratch his chronic itch in what likely seemed to him to be a relatively safe way. You may catch an Internet virus sending that photo to a distant potential paramour, but Norton Antivirus will kill it. You sure won’t catch a STD. Weiner’s action was still stupid but as any guy with sufficiently high hormone levels knows, your probability of doing something stupid increases with elevated testosterone levels. That’s just a fact. Ask any guy, but those who claim otherwise are probably guilty of being sanctimonious liars.
Here’s the thing though: even when your hormone levels are high, a guy can still exercise reasonable judgment about other things as long as they are not sexual. You still can multitask. You can still ask a probing question in a committee hearing. You can even do stupid stuff like Weiner did and still love your spouse. Now I know what you women will probably say: he does not love me if he does stuff like this in the first place. Duh! Yes, it is possible that he does not love you and he has mentally left the marriage. It’s much more likely that he still loves you, but loves you on his terms, not yours. Most likely it was either you or society which imposed either explicitly or implicitly what those terms were going to be. To a guy, except for those so deep into the bowels of religion that they cannot recognize their own legitimate feelings anymore, this duality is all perfectly consistent, particularly when your hormones are surging.
One of the virtues of middle age in men is that your hormone levels tend to surge less often, so you are less likely to do overtly stupid stuff like Weiner did. Still, the likelihood remains as long as you are a male. We didn’t ask for it, but we men are programmed to be overtly sexual. Masking it in any way is somewhat unnatural. We control it, to the extent we can, by having an excellent sex life with our spouse (which rarely happens) and by daily mindfulness. But it’s sort of like being an ex-smoker asked to never smoke another cigarette again. You can follow strategies to reduce the likelihood of smoking, but the craving will always be there.
Many of you will disagree with me, particularly if you are a female, but I assure you there is a huge Alleluia Chorus of guys out there too shy to leave comments singing “Ahem”. Yes, what Weiner did was hurtful to his spouse and family, but it was not illegal. From the standpoint of fitting into polite society and advancing in a social hierarchy, which is very important to politicians, it was extraordinarily stupid. Yes, if he meditated on it long enough he probably could have prevented it. Still, Weiner is basically guilty of being a guy with an active endocrine system. Give him a break for a first offense.