Saturday, June 4, 2011

Of Course: FrumForum's Guardiano Sticks Up for Anthony Weiner; UPDATED

Remember John Guardiano, the David Frum cultist (how sad do you have to be to choose David Frum of all people to sell your soul to, anyway?) who lied about Andy McCarthy and refused to come clean when caught dead to rights? Well, the Soulless Sycophant is back, this time raking conservatives over the coals for making a big deal out of Weinergate (hat tip to Robert Stacy McCain).

First, here's his asinine characterization of the scandal:

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-New York), of course, is accused of… Well, it’s not clear what, exactly, Weiner’s being accused of. His Twitter account apparently was hacked, or used by a trusted friend or employee for illicit purposes. And so, a close-up shot of a man’s crotch in underwear was sent from his account to a woman in Seattle.

By contemporary standards, the shot is pretty lame and tame. And, as soon as the Congressman realized the pic had been sent from his account, he disavowed and deleted it. The woman from Seattle, likewise, immediately repudiated the notion that she was some sort of love interest of Weiner’s [...]

It’s clear, I think, that Weiner himself never sent this lewd pic to the 21-year-old college student in Seattle. However, others with access to his account or the pic perhaps did. We just don’t know — and we really shouldn’t care.
It's not clear what Weiner's accused of? I know FrumForum doesn't put a premium on reading comprehension or basic logic, but come on. He's accused of sending a photo of his crotch to a young female supporter. And while some have wondered about an odd reference to Seattle on one of his tweets and the student's own description of Weiner as "my boyfriend," nobody I've heard is claiming that they were having an affair. The gist of what is suspected to have happened - Weiner sending a lewd pic to a young female groupie for kicks - is pretty obvious.

And no, it's not "clear" that "Weiner himself never sent" the photo. Guardiano talks at length about how easy it is to get hacked by mischievous pranksters on the Internet, but he doesn't spend a single word on Weiner's behavior after this came to light - not his refusal to ask law enforcement to investigate, not the glaring inconsistency between what he says happened to him and what he wants done about it, and not his preposterous inability to say "with certitude" that he's not the guy in the picture. None of this strikes you as just the tiniest bit suspicious, John? Really?

Second, here's the way he characterizes the "manufactured and phony hype":
Case closed, right? I mean, things happen; accounts get hacked (or sometimes misused by trusted friends and employees); we all realize that; and so we move on.

Well, no, because to impassioned partisan bloggers, both Left and Right, any such incident is a chance to score political points. It’s a chance to beat up the other side, bloody them politically, and pile on the points for your team. And so this non-story quickly — nay, immediately – became the latest “SCANDAL!”
Now, I understand how Guardiano might not see the significance of a story pertaining to a politician's ethics and morals, since rejecting both is a prerequisite for working at FrumForum. But maybe I can explain this in terms even they can understand. There are three possible scenarios here:
  1. Weiner sent the photo and had some sort of relationship with the girl. In this case, he's a married man and a public servant having an affair with someone young enough to be his daughter.
  2. Weiner sent the photo unsolicited. In this case, he's a married man and a public servant exploiting one of his supporters' fondness for him and sexually harassing harassing her.
  3. Someone else sent the photo. In this case, somebody committed sexual harassment against this girl, framing a United States Congressman in the process, but for some reason that congressman doesn't want the perpetrator brought to justice.
Obviously, none of these scenarios describe a "certifiable non-issue." Or at least, it should be obvious. But then, sound judgment on sexual impropriety stories has never been FrumForum's strong suit... 

So, to recap: "conservative" blogger John Guardiano takes a story about a horrendous far-left Democrat engaging in sleazy behavior and badly lying about it, completely ignores the key facts of the case, and spins it into a story about conservatives being irresponsible. At least he's following his master's example to the letter.

UPDATE: Now that Weiner's fessed up to the whole thing, Guardiano has another post. Does he admit that his asinine claim that it was "clear" Weiner didn't send the photos was totally wrong? Of course not. Instead, he rips on conservatives who are openly enjoying Weiner's disgrace and insisting that the scandal is all about Weiner's private life, which should be off-limits:

Anthony Weiner was caught doing a wrong and stupid thing: By his own admission, he “exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.” Some of this communication took place after Weiner was married, and he lied about at least one explicit tweet.

That’s sad, shameful and embarrassing. But it also is of no real public import. It’s between him, his wife, his rabbi and his God.

In fact, it remains true even now that nobody has shown Weiner’s actions had any legal or public implications whatsoever.
The should-we-care-about-politicians'-infidelities debate is an old one, and it's no surprise an unprincipled hack like John Guardiano takes the side of indifference. In my opinion, of course a politician's affairs are politically relevant - they reveal whether he likely to keep promises, whether he takes trust seriously, whether he has self-control or is a narcissist, etc. And in Weiner's case, it definitely sounds like not all of Weiner's pen pals were interested in show & tell. Again, does the phrase "sexual harassment" mean anything to John? How pathetic is the state of American politics that we can't even agree that swapping causal sex talk and photos with complete strangers is conduct unbecoming a congressman, and that it reveals that someone lacks the judgment we should expect out of the people making decisions that affect our lives and liberties?

Guardiano goes on to make himself look like even more of a moron:

Some have argued that, by sending explicit photos to a women he barely knew, or had just met online, Weiner made himself susceptible to blackmail. I suppose that’s technically true, but it’s also rather farfetched and unrealistic.

Weiner’s politics are well known; his congressional votes are well publicized; and so it’s hard to see how, in our open and democratic society, he could be blackmailed into changing his political stripes.

Saying Weiner made himself susceptible to blackmail is no more convincing than saying that corporate campaign contributions “buy” a congressman’s vote. In truth, campaign contributions follow a congressman’s vote; they do not direct it.

By the same token, Weiner was pursuing these women for his own personal purposes; they were not political types pursuing him for partisan or financial gain.
This is so ridiculously obtuse I barely know where to begin. First, I doubt Weiner would change his political stripes, either, but it's incredibly ignorant and simplistic to suggest that's the only conceivable kind of blackmail. Not all votes are a question of ideology, and there are plenty of other ways a congressman can be useful, such as pulling strings with various federal, state, and local agencies. Second, it's even more absurd to limit the pool of blackmailers to Weiner's known partners/victims - the point is, Weiner was so indiscriminate that he didn't care what kind of people were getting this material, and that there's no telling whose hands it could ultimately fall into (again with the judgment thing). Third, it doesn't matter how unlikely blackmail is in any particular case of impropriety. Public servants are supposed to avoid even the appearance of being compromised, to maintain the public's faith in the process.

As a political junkie, I often find myself asking one question: is Person X simply dishonest, or is he really this stupid? With John Guardiano, I honestly don't know. Does the American Spectator, an otherwise-serious conservative publication, know how badly their association with this guy reflects on them?

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