Jonah, re that New York Times “news alert” — “Representative Anthony D. Weiner Acknowledges Communication With Women Online” — nobody who could write that headline with a straight face should be in the news business.
It’s one thing to lose the story to Andrew Breitbart because you’re too snooty to sully yourself with Weiner’s briefs. It’s another thing to pile on and support Weiner’s slandering of Breitbart out of ideological solidarity. But, when the congressman himself is at a press conference admitting he’s e-mailed explicit photos of himself around the Internet and you choose that headline to convey the story to your readers, you’re basically telling them you’re the paper for court eunuchs.
PS. I agree with Jonah: It’s not about criminality, it’s about honor. Likewise, what matters about John Edwards is not whether paying for his love-child’s Pampers with a donation from Bunny Mellon sluiced through a third party fronting as a 501(c) for tax-deductible carbon credits registered as a UNESCO branch office in Haiti is a violation of applicable campaign finance laws, but that he’s a contemptible slug who succeeded in flattering the genteel spinsters of America’s legacy media that his unfitness for office was a subject far too vulgar for such elevated souls to pursue. To survive, a society needs a sense of what’s wrong, not just a 12,000-page rulebook from the Department of Compliance.
PPS. On the other hand, I disagree with Kathryn. I don’t look to minor functionaries of the leviathan to be “role models.” Nuts to that: Weiner, Edwards, Rangel, [Your Congressman Here], “role models”? I’m just looking for the same level of integrity I expect from my hardware store or insurance agency. But by its nature Big Government will attract strange people drawn to “public service” for the boundless opportunities it offers the otherwise untalented for unearned perquisites and gratifications of one kind or another. As I said in my weekend column, you can’t have small government with big Weiners. The bigger the state gets, the more the modus operandi of its princelings will tend to the Weinerian.