Rep. Anthony Weiner by http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_wb/
Weiner's getting into treatment will also give the constituents of his district reason to adopt a wait-and-see stance on the viability of his future effectiveness as their representative in Congress. (It is unlikely. however, that Republicans will approach Weiner's decision with much charity. Recent events and comments from the party-faithful suggest that, for Republicans, charity begins at home, and stays at home.)
Then again, maybe no "interested parties" will exhibit charity in lieu of malice toward Mr. Weiner. (Hell, his last name may be enough to flatten that inclination. It's too punnable to waste.) If true, this would be sadly odd; few of us who have observed his erratic actions, verbal gaffes, misdirection, lies, and revelations over the past few weeks can doubt that he has wrestled with demons and lost many matches over the years when it came to managing his penchant for virtual sex.
It would be odder still, given the platform and the bully congressional pulpit Weiner, like a political Mick Jagger, has performed on for years. Here's a guy with media savvy, who courted media attention, a politician who was oxygen-consuming, bandwidth-grabbing in his righteous outrage over Congressional mal-treatment of the economically wounded.
Clearly Weiner knew he had become a moving target who walked a tightrope on issues; clearly he knew he had enemies. Surely, common sense would dictate, he would be wary of missteps in his private life and in his young marriage. Yet, by his incessant pursuit of gratification of his sexual predilections, Weiner threw away the net and kept on trucking.
The natural response of people to the recent and scandalous revelations regarding the potentially public embarrassment and exploitable footprints laid down by Rep. Weiner has been 'what was he thinking? Is he stupid or crazy or just neurotic?'
The answer, I think is all three. Neuroses make you look stupid and crazy. Weiner's risky behavior is self- destructive, given the life frame within which he has chosen to live--national politics. Were he a private man living a single, private life he may have been doing nothing different than other individuals, male or female, who pursue sex, thrills and romance on the internet. It might even be called "the new normal," or "practicing safe sex."
But, that was not Mr. Weiner's chosen fishbowl and, as such, his behavior is remarkably reckless, beyond thrilling, stepping into stupid. That is a fairly close description of neurotic behavior in pursuit of neurotically based sexual gratifications in some very wrong places with some very wrong people with the possibility of some very disastrous consequences.
Now, let's pull back from our Puritan judgments for a minute. If Weiner had a drinking or prescriptive drug problem, his colleagues and constituents might be inclined to give him some slack, support his seeking counseling for his maladaptive, maladroit, possibly addictive behavior.
If Weiner developed a medical condition like cancer or had a stroke, his colleagues and constituents (and those performing in the media circus) would encourage and support treatment and rehabilitation. These are, of course, physical or physiologically based conditions and Weiner's Congressional colleagues would stand up in sympathetic support of his seeking treatment, not demand he resign his seat, destroy his career.
But sexual problems resulting from a likely psychological disorder -- a behavioral-emotional illness --is, in these fractious, political times with Democrats running scared, clearly another matter entirely. Matters of sex tend to elicit less compassion, more embarrassment and more moral judgmentalism than sympathy. This is true even if, as in Weiner's case, nothing criminal is attached to these behaviors; and even if the transactions in which he was engaged were virtual and never physically expressed.
I personally think seeking help is a wise decision by Rep. Weiner and I hope his colleagues give him a chance to get his demons quieted and his dysfunctional life patterns under control. There's plenty of time to seek revenge for a man's weaknesses and embarrassing behavior if he stumbles or fails in his rehabilitation.
With treatment, guidance and training in powerful cognitive-behavioral methods of promoting self-awareness, self-talk and self-control, he may get his Satans behind him. A compassionate mind and years of meritorious service to his district and his country would be terrible things to trash because of what really is a tragic illness, and not fodder for a national, media-frenzied farce.