(Warning: harsh language)
Well, as many have predicted, Congressman Weiner has sought out professional help and treatment for his condition that led him to engage in what I like to call “junk mailing.” And we can rest assured that he will emerge from his therapy with the love and support of his family, friends, and even some of his allies, as he speaks of the terrible ordeal it was for all these years living with the burden of his addiction, but now he’s fine and ready to resume his duties.
Weiner is not some kind of addict. He doesn’t have some condition or some illness that can be treated or cured. What he is, is an asshole.
Now, while that’s a derogatory tem, it’s not necessarily a damning one. We all have our inner assholes. What separates us is how big our inner asshole is, and how much restraint we can exercise over it.
In a way, and in a most appropriate way in Weiner’s case, it’s like our sexuality. We all have our sexual identity and preferences. I’m a heterosexual man with a serious weakness for redheaded women. Barney Frank is a gay man with a preference for men whose affections he can buy with his power and money. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a heterosexual man with, apparently, very ecumenical and non-discriminatory tastes. And so on.
We can’t control that about ourselves. It’s part of our essential nature.
What we can do is control how it is expressed.
As I’ve said, I have a fondness for redheads. I almost married one. But that doesn’t mean that I accost every single redheaded lady I encounter. It doesn’t mean I stalk them and send them pictures showing how much I respond to them. It doesn’t mean that I fantasize about putting a red-headed wig on every woman I find attractive. (Well, OK, maybe that one, a little.) And I certainly don’t have such a wig atop my computer’s monitor so that every woman on the screen becomes a redhead. (Although now that I think of it… no, never mind.)
Why? Why don’t I do it, even though it would increase my likelihood of getting that which I desire?
Because I’m not an asshole.
OK, that’s not quite true. I am, you are, we all are, to various degrees.
But I’m not going to give my inner asshole that much control over me. Because I think of myself as a man, and to me a major definition of being a man is self-control, self-restraint, of being able to rein in my baser instincts (and hoo boy, do they get base on occasion) and function in civilized society.
Anthony Weiner did what he could not out of any kind of irresistible impulse, or as a symptom of some terrible condition. He did it for the simplest of reasons, the reasons why dogs lick their crotches: because he could. Because he thought he could get away with it. And it probably wasn’t just about sex for him, I suspect, but the sheer thrill of knowing he could do it and get away with it.
Until he couldn’t.
What Weiner needs right now isn’t therapy, it’s shame. It’s embarrassment. It’s to stand up and say “yeah, I did it. I knew it was wrong, that it was risky, that it would hurt those who love me and care about me and trust me, and I did it anyway. I know now the lesson I should have learned as a child, and that just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should do it. I’ve been humiliated, those around me have been humiliated, and I have to live with the knowledge that it was my fault and my fault alone. I am now both sadder and wiser, and I hope that I am wiser enough now that I will not make that same kind of mistake again.”
Instead, he’ll go off to his therapy and be told that it wasn’t his fault, that he had no control, and now he needs to learn how to control those impulses better so he can go back to being the raging asshole he was before — just now with his pants on.
And, sadly, a lot of people will not only accept that, they’ll praise him for his courage and his strength — for admitting what he did only after lying his ass off for over a week and only after being cornered like a rat with absolute, irrefutable proof.
Hell, he might even get a Profile In Courage award out of it. For denying the truth as long as he could, then taking the easy way out.