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Weiner scandal godsend for bored editors

Date: 6/13/2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I can't imagine the type of school experience Rep. Anthony Weiner had growing up.

I guess he was lucky his parents didn't name him "Richard."

So, I would have thought that years of teasing and bad, snarky jokes would have produced a guy who wanted to steer clear of situations which could create more Beavis and Butthead moments: "Heh, heh, heh, heh, he said, 'Weiner.'"

Instead, this guy does something so immensely stupid that one wonders just how big his ego really is. Did he think anything on Twitter is private or that anything sent through a social medium isn't permanent somewhere in the cosmic tar pit that is the Internet?

Weiner's defenders are saying that he should stay in office because, unless it is shown he either broke the law or shattered the House's ethics rules, that what he did was his own business and, while dumb and offensive, it shouldn't cause his removal.

His critics are saying that these incidents show his lack of judgment and he should resign.

How much the raw power of politics comes into play here is, of course, the unknown factor. The Democrats don't want to give the Republicans another talking point. The Republicans want to point to a Democrat to divert attention from their own problems.

Republican Sen. David Vitter hasn't reigned yet despite his admission of running around with prostitutes. Republican Rep. Mark Souder did resign after an admission of having sex with a staffer. Republican Sen. Larry Craig didn't resign despite his bathroom incident at an airport.

Of course, all of Ted Kennedy's shenanigans didn't motivate voters here to demand his resignation. He wasn't just re-elected; he was beloved. President Bill Clinton is still regarded fondly despite his unfortunate proclivity for interns.

Is it right or fair to hold elected officials to a higher standard than we do other people, such as ourselves? After all, many people have had some variation of a wink, wink, nudge, nudge moment. If we call ourselves Christians, as some of us do, don't we believe in confession and forgiveness?

Are the only standards to which we should hold elected officials are the laws that apply to all of us and their performance in office? Let me know.

All I know is that in this world, where gossip and trivia frequently rules over legitimate news, the Weiner story was a godsend to some editors tired of reporting about wars or jobs or inexplicable weather.


Notes to my friends in television news: If there is a temperature shift from the high 70s to the low 80s is the word "milder" really the right word to describe the upward movement?

And do temperatures in the 90s constitute "warmth?" How about "heat?" Also, why look so damn happy when severe weather hits?

Now, I'm no fashionista — that's for sure! — but I think wearing three-inch stiletto heels to a tour of a school building ravaged by the tornado is just slightly ill advised.

Of course, I'm an old fashioned kind of news guy, but I actually don't think you shouldn't start your report before the start of the actual event about which you're reporting. That's not news, that's assumption.

But hey, what do I know? The TV people make more money than I do and the pols actually will hold up meetings for them to arrive. If this rumpled old grey beard is hung in traffic trying to get from one assignment to another, he has to play catch up ball.

They attend a meeting for a fraction of its time, while I stay until the thing is done.

At least I take solace in my anonymity. If I wear a loud shirt in public and don't have perfect hair no one is the wiser. I'm just embarrassing my wife and, after 32 years, she doesn't notice either.

Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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