The Lessons I Learned From The Anthony Weiner Story

Here’s what I knew and what I didn’t know. Here’s what I know now.

What I have realized about Anthony Weiner over the last few days is that he did some very bad things, but I should feel sorry for him. It is okay to point out the bad things he did while also making it clear that he has a very serious problem that we should be compassionate about. I’m glad that there are pundits out there who will remind me that you can both condemn the person who did the bad things and express pity about the sickness that makes the bad things happen, sometimes even in the same paragraph. Now that I know this I am both angry at the Anthony Weiner who did those actions and sad for Anthony Weiner who couldn’t help himself from doing those actions.

I am also thankful to journalists, particularly the ones who live in New York City and make six figure salaries, for explaining to me how the American people will view the bad things Anthony Weiner did in the context of the ongoing presidential campaign, a race in which his soon-to-be-ex-wife works as an aide to the Democratic nominee. It’s a good thing that the press can tell the rest of us how a regular Joe — or Jane — in Cuyahoga County, OH, will change his — or her — opinion about the campaign because of this critical news. I’m glad that the people who know our country best because of their lived experiences can provide this important analysis to someone like me.

Most of all, I am in debt to the voices in the media who have reminded me how important it is that I have strong opinions about this story. At first I was inclined to treat it as a sick sideshow whose relevance to the race and the future of our country was tenuous at best and grossly superficial and desperate at worse, a tawdry situation seized on with unseemly glee by a pack of jackals who will mock a man’s illness while overstating its significance all in the service of headline buzz and horserace analysis. It turns out this is probably one of the most meaningful events in the election, and my discomfort with it is an indictment of me and my own lack of seriousness. I could not be more grateful for everyone who kept me “woke” about this issue.

Finally, whoever did that explainer for “dick pics”? You’re the greatest heroes of all. I don’t know what we did to deserve a press like the one we’ve got, but I guess they’re right when they talk about America as an exceptional nation. Great job, everyone!