Suppose you needed to have emergency brain surgery, some kind of tricky procedure that you might or might not survive. The hospital told “We’ve got two surgeons, Dr. Bayh and Dr. Weiner. Bayh is a pillar of the community, the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with. Weiner got caught doing some consensual crotch tweeting last year. Nothing wrong with Bayh, he’s a real good surgeon. But Weiner is a fucking madman, if anyone can save you, it’s him.” I don’t have to ask which surgeon you would choose, do I? And that’s even before they tell you that Bayh is about to quit and go earn seven figures as a lobbyist for Pfizer.
Likewise, if Steve Jobs got caught crotch tweeting, and the company tried to force him out, you’d have some angry shareholders on your hand. When someone’s professional skill obviously really matters, no one cares much about their personal life anymore. When the media obsesses over politicians’ sex lives, it show that it doesn’t think politics is a very important profession. If I were Chris Matthews, I would feel sad that I devoted my life to something so obviously unimportant.
Megan McArdle insists that “society has [an] interest in whether people keep their vows” in marriage and thus it’s a good thing “to use a few of our precious news hours to say, ‘Hey, not okay’!” Except McArdle has absolutely no idea what vows Weiner and his wife have made to each other, and she shouldn’t know, because it’s none of her business, despite her eagerness to learn about it and publicly condemn it. Even if she had any idea of what she was talking about — and she plainly doesn’t — nothing is less relevant than Megan McArdle’s views of the arrangement Anthony Weiner and his wife have for their marriage and whether each partner is adhering to that arrangement. That a journalist at The Atlantic wants to talk about this, and dig into the details, and issue judgments about it, says all one needs to know about our press corps.
That’s the thing, we just don’t know anything about Weiner’s marriage and, frankly, it isn’t our business. I have plenty of friends I know very well whose relationships make no sense to me. What would make anyone think that they knew Weiner and his wife so well that they knew exactly what the parameters of their marriage were? Many of Weiner’s professional activities are a matter of public record; his votes, his love for AIPAC, etc. are all out there for us to see. Wouldn’t it make more sense to judge him as Congressman based on this public record? Even if you don’t think being a Congressman is an important job, at least we have enough evidence to judge his record there one way or the other.
The same goes for all the stuff about V.S. Naipaul, Roald Dahl, and the other newly minted monsters Freddie discusses. You like their books or you don’t. You’ll never figure out what they were really like, no matter how thorough the biography, and there’s no reason to care in the first place. None of these people are going to move in next door to you or marry your sister. So who cares if they’re assholes?
Nobody’s perfect and I suspect most people have done something “as bad”, if you look at it the right way, as tweet their crotch around at some point in their life. The real monsters are the cynical Beltway elites who throw the American people under the bus in exchange for wingnut welfare or just to help out their ideological movement. David Brooks and Evan Bayh could be great family men for all I know. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here — stop lying to the public.