Kimberly’s thoughts on the Anthony Weiner incident…

While former Congressman Anthony Weiner and the world were deciding if he would stay, be fired, or resign, I did not want to chime in. I felt like I did not have enough information, and that most major party politicians are not worth my reflection, anyway. Also, I did not want to distract from the fact that what Rep. Weiner did was wrong, and it hurt people.

Though…

I think it is time for folks to think about what should happen when politicians face sexual scandal. It is one of the oldest political problems. And, recently, it keeps coming up.

If a politician does violence, it seems clear that they do not deserve to be a leader.  (I was adamant about the fact that Senator Hiram Monserrate had to leave the NY State Senate after his domestic violence charges.)

Though, other problems, scandals and awkwardness seem more debatable.

And, it worries me that someone who wants to get rid of a politician can, too easily, dig up dirt and force the person out. That situation is not healthy, either.

An example of a worrisome incident is what happened to Eliot Spitzer when he was Governor of NY.  A prostitution scandal was revealed, and, in the blink of an eye, the elected governor was gone. I did not admire Spitzer overall. And, his scandal may have involved some criminal money transactions. But, politically, he was going after some bad business people. And, it worries me that what happened could have been part of a plot to quickly extinguish an elected leader on a mission.

Also, if the problem is that someone cheated on his wife, that person is personally wrong, but might still be useful to work on the politics and legislation that he was elected to do.

As a woman, I don’t like to feel that people in the shadows are pushing all my buttons to garnish a feminist outcry against someone for their own ends. When a scandal is sexual, but not violent, I want to think that the problem could be solved by reforming the wrongdoer, instead of ousting a public official in a media-driven, knee-jerk reaction.

I think that we should reflect on a way to handle elected officials who get caught in noncriminal, sexual scandals. It should be a response that addresses their breech of faith, and the inherit sexism of their act. It should be a plan that includes some punishment and some education for them. Yet, also, some hope that they can serve out the term they were elected to.

So, for Anthony Weiner, I would have wished:

-He be forced to take sensitivity training offered by a feminist group.

-He submit to someone (The House Ethics Committee, perhaps?) evidence of psychological counseling.

-He write a public apology note to the women whom he disrespected.

-A note be published on his website for a few months about who to contact with concerns about passed incidents.

-He be given a two months leave.

What I think should be considered for the future:

There should be clear legislation or ethics policy that sets out punishments and suggested timelines for elected officials who are suspected of a scandal, a moral breech, or a nonviolent crime. Perhaps this policy would state that an official in the middle of such turmoil should take, or would be forced to take, a two month leave. By setting a timeline, it would make it harder for someone with ulterior political motives to reveal a scandal, and then try to create timelines that could influence a vote.

Also, you could deflect some of the problem of the governmental power swirling around and hinging on someone’s person problems, if there was a policy or mechanism that clarified what would happens with an official’s vote when he or she was on leave. For instance: You might allow that person’s staff to cast the vote. Or, allow that person’s party to appoint an interim official.

The Anthony Weiner incident was a strange and sad experience. And, it is reminiscent of the story lines of: Arnold Schwarzenegger; former NY State Senator Hiram Monserrate; former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer; and former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. I wish the Anthony Weiner incident, and these other concerning scandals, could become an experience that American voters learned from.

One Response

  1. […] See Kimberly’s thoughts on the Anthony Weiner incident… […]

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