One of the more whimsical ó and possibly helpful ó articles coming out of the Anthony Weiner scandal was a self-help feature on Jezebel.com musing about whether it was ever appropriate for a man to send a woman a picture of his private parts.
With all the sage wisdom of a Miss Manners column, it ran through nine possible scenarios when one might consider taking a selfie of oneís, um, selfie. Readers, I will eliminate the suspense: One should never text a picture of oneís private bits. Just. Do. Not. Do. It.
Letís set aside the caddish, creepy and undeniably pathological behavior of the rodent-like former congressman from New York. His grossness is one of the few things both the Fox News and the MSNBC crowds can agree on. Heís yucky, the kind of guy you worry about making eye contact with lest it give you an STD.
But these kinds of people exist, and we see them disproportionately in politics, where lawmakers who ask for money and votes for a living might be inclined over time to develop the need for gratuitous ego-feeding in the same way a hoarder might need more Smurf collectibles.
Weinerís case, obviously, being the extreme.
Weiner is disgusting, but heís hardly a surprise.
What has been startling in this whole scenario is the secondary cast. Iím not talking about the 20-something Sydney Leathers, whose desperation began with her decision to engage with a predatory lout and continued with a series of cheesecake bikini shots in The New York Post (have some self-respect, lady!). Nor am I referring to Huma Abedin, who has spurred most American women to wonder why a beautiful, smart woman would date, much less marry, someone so skeevy. (Time for a Truth Bomb: Sheís not the first woman with lousy taste in men.) Iím talking about the outliers.
Iím talking about New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who speculated that Huma stayed with Anthony because sheís from Saudi Arabia, where women are treated poorly.
And Iím talking about Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn, who mused that Abedin and Weiner are still wed because of Abedinís unrelenting ambition ó a particularly loathsome assumption, because really, what does Abedin have to gain politically from staying married to a laughingstock?
Itís hard to find sentiments that make Weiner less ooky, but these two tread close to that turf. Weinerís the cad, but somehow, by questioning Abedinís motives in staying married, they somehow seem to implicate her in this scandal, as if she somehow powered his texting fingers with her ethnic heritage and her political aspirations.
The truth is, we donít know what is motivating Abedin, and really, in the long run itís not our business if she sticks with him or cuts her losses. It is arguably our business, however, if New Yorkís voters are dumb enough to elect someone who can now reasonably be compared to the creep exposing himself on a park bench. It would not exactly be a win for democracy.
Those watching the second Weiner news conference couldnít help but wonder about Abedin, feeling sympathy twinges for this woman and wondering what was going on in her head.
But itís one thing to question her decision to stay.
Itís another to assign motives to it.