Ok by now, we’ve all heard about it. Weinergate. Representative Anthony Weiner started with denials, followed by hedging, and finally followed by admission. All of this seasoned with Weiner’s shocked response to the question regarding whether he was going to resign – “No, I’m not going to resign.” The guy who has been married less than a year who had phone sex, exchanged sexting messages, and sent pornographic photos to no less than six women over Facebook and Twitter doesn’t have the class or common sense to know when to resign. Duh…
However, why does this whole drama around Anthony Weiner’s behavior really matter to the country at large? For one, he was engaged in having phone sex, sexting, and sending pornographic pictures utilizing the assets of the US Congress. This will be at least one reason why Weiner will be investigated by the House Ethics Committee.
Second, employers have a right to establish standards of conduct for employees, especially for behavior during work hours. It is common for senior level employees to have morality and behavioral clauses that apply to their employment. Often the clauses are not only intended to prevent legal claims against the company but more importantly to prevent the employee from damaging the reputation of the company. Clearly all of these conditions apply to Weiner. All congress people work for the citizens of the United States so congressmen are employees. There is no doubt that this type of behavior damages the reputation of Congress and the US Government at large. Finally, it has become obvious that Representative Weiner was sexting, having phone sex and distributing pornographic material during “normal” work hours. Any employee I can think of that worked for a company in the United States would be terminated for Weiner’s behavior. They would be gone immediately.
Also Weiner attempted to cover up his behavior by stating that his Twitter account had been hacked. Given the confidential nature of a Congressman’s job, a compromise in his communication was a serious issue with national implications. Weiner realized that he was on the bubble of creating a felony with his statement. If Weiner would have actually engaged Federal agencies to investigate the so called hack, he would absolutely have felony charges filed against him. In his one moment of clear thinking, Weiner did state he was handling the investigation with a private firm. However simply the cover up and the implication that Congressional communications were compromised is more than enough to justify Weiner’s resignation.
Finally the most serious security problem with Weiner’s behavior is that his lack of discretion opened the Congressman to blackmail. Representative Weiner was clearly “ripe” for blackmail. He stated that he knew the behavior was inappropriate, and he continued the behavior anyway. He also was willing to lie to colleagues, his staff, the national press, and his wife to cover up his behavior. Thus he could be blackmailed. Who knows what someone could have extracted from Mr. Weiner. Of course, money and political favors come to mind. As many earmarks are slipped into legislation by representatives Mr. Weiner could have used favorable legislation as a payoff to a blackmailer. In addition, if Weiner’s messages and pictures could have made their way into more sinister hands, possibly they could have talked Weiner into compromising confidential government documents. Given Weiner’s excessive degree of bad judgment and behavior, there is no telling how far Weiner would have compromised U.S. interests to keep his behavior secret.
Of course, this whole episode has provided a good object lesson for everyone who feels tempted to participate in sexting, distribute pictures of their body parts or be unfaithful to their spouse. Representative Weiner used as an excuse that he’s been teased about his name his whole life. Based upon his fixations with his own body parts, it appears Weiner’s name is as fitting to him as a man who works with wood being named Carpenter. Apparently the advice my friends gave each other in second grade still applies today. Don’t be a Weiner.