Screw the Weiner. Give Me a Real Scandal!

I believe I’ve mentioned that going into the last presidential election cycle I was a big fan of John Edwards. As campaign messages go I thought that his “Two Americas” bit was dead on and very saleable. (And it still is, maybe more than ever.) Plus,I assumed that after his ’04 run with John Kerry he was fully geared for the absurdities of the campaign trail … and, frankly, I thought what the Democrats needed was a slick, smart trial lawyer to counter-attack the usual Karl Rove-style selective outrage crap. Also, I figured he might do okay with the female vote.

Lately I’ve also admired the work of Anthony Weiner. In a world of sawdust dull Harry Reids, Henry Waxmans and, well, John Kerrys, I saw some value in a guy who was both on target legislatively and politically and could deliver a steady stream smart bombs on GOP hypocrisies with a satirist’s wit. (Hence the voracity with which he’s being gutted.)

So, in the realm of understatement, last week was a tough one, what with Edwards indicted for kiting campaign money into the care and keeping of his astral-crystal lover mama and Weiner exposed as — what else do you call it? an utter, compulsive idiot — for cyber sexting female fans. Right now I can’t remember where I read or heard someone who knew Edwards pre-’04 talking about the “astonishing transformation” that came over the guy after he got a killer dose of the idolatry that comes from intense public exposure .,.. in a fevered partisan environment. . The phrase “down to earth” was even used. If Anthony Weiner has undergone something of the same, I don’t know, except of course that Jon Stewart considers him a friend and Stewart doesn’t strike me as a guy who readily embraces wanton douche bags.

But this latest … epic scandal, a mostly obscure congressman from Queens/Brooklyn flirting with women to whom he is not married, but as far as we know not breaking any laws … got me thinking again on the Republicans’ singular failure over the past three years. Namely, the inability to hang anything … anything … on Barack Obama. And by “anything” I mean some kind of sexual scandalpalooza. Something titanic. Like, you know,  Paula Jones via the earth-shaking Whitewater real estate deal. What could possibly give? Even if Obama has managed to keep his pants zipped and his fingers off his Blackberry camera all of his career, the likes of Andrew Breitbart should have made something up by now. The Presidential equivalent of a Shirley Sherrod moment. Get video of Obama with Mrs. Sarkozy, Carla Bruni, feed it back and forth through an Avid editing deck and voila! insinuation of scandal and a news cycle dominating story that knocks the Paul Ryan budget debacle, and the looming establishment GOP v. Tea Party crusaders brawl deep into the background.

The book “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heileman, (soon to be a major movie), was a great read for all the head-slapping bungling, back-stabbing, second-guessing, desperation and craven-ness of everyone on the ’08 campaign trail … except Obama. Point being again, we elected the right guy in terms of someone fully committed to doing the job he was elected to do, and considering the quality of the candidates the Republicans have been swooning over, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and our own “courageous”, budget-balancing choirboy, Tim Pawlenty, he should get elected again.

But now I am wondering, what with the string of all the anti-gay Republicans caught flagrante delicta with male hookers (and worse), Nev. Sen. John Ensign’s “C” Street Bible Study Group/hot chick clearing house, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edwards and Weiner how much the public really cares anymore about the sexual compulsions of influential men swamped with constant, easy access to “somethin’ somethin'” on the side? How soon does this kind of … historically routine … behavior hit the tipping point equivalent  of having smoked a few joints in college? The point where you just can’t care that much … about something that matters so little to you?

If I were to advise Weiner on a career path, I’d suggest he follow Eliot Spitzer’s lead and move to better paying job with a bigger megaphone for attacking the real scandals of our age … the stuff that actually does matter, a hell of a lot, to everyone whether they’re being reminded of it hourly by the mainstream press or not.

Do I have to remind you that as of this date not one key person involved Wall Street’s world economic collapse home mortgage derivatives scandal, (a real scandal, albeit one lacking any naked pictures), has yet gone to jail, and the government is being successfully stymied in pressing indictments against Goldman Sachs for what appear to be beyond flagrant acts of fraud? Weiner on cable news could for example get New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin (author of “Too Big to Fail”) on with Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi to discuss their competing views of the veracity/duplicity of Goldman, Sachs’ management team. (Sorkin’s Tuesday column is essentially a public response to Taibbi’s piece of May 10, and here Taibbi responds to Sorkin.)

It ain’t exactly beefcake on Twitter, but I for one am a lot more taken with the gravity of that scandal than this latest Tale of the Weiner.