To have watched Weiner’s news conference yesterday was to see a man in the throes of deadly shame. He had to confess to be being a creep. He had to tell the world that he had sent those lewd picture of himself to women he hardly knew. But telling the world, while painful, must have been easy compared to telling his wife. No man wants to be unmasked as little boy. This is ignominy of the worst kind.
We have seen this before, of course — Bill Clinton, his face constricted in that awful television address confessing what he had done. That, too, was fun for some, jolly good sport. It was not about foreign policy or health insurance or anything else that mattered. It was the culmination of the attempt to destroy a person by exposing his private life. It worked. It damned well worked.
We are doing a terrible thing here — we hypocrites of the press, especially of the blogosphere. Every man lives a bit in a fantasy world, maybe women, too, but I know nothing of them. Every man is a boy, either in mind or in deed. Much of this is harmless. There are no bodies. There is no crime. This is the case with Weiner. No damsel was in distress, and no one was rescued.
This is the place for me to condemn Weiner. Consider it done. He’s a liar and a creep, although how one can be the latter without being the former is beyond me. (Still, lying is impermissible.) But I would also like to condemn those who made it their business to destroy him, who deputized themselves to invade someone’s private life, his fantasy life, and hold him up to ridicule.
The press has become the enforcer of conventional morality, a parody of it, actually. The nation cuddles up at night with Internet porn and sings the obscene lyrics of popular music and grabs its crouch on the “Today” show and watches, smug as can be, as someone like Anthony Weiner get thrown to the lions. We looked the wrong way yesterday. It was not Weiner on TV that we should have watched but ourselves watching him.