Turns out the Congressman is not just a Weiner but, in the parlance of our people (his, mine and Jon Stewart’s), a “schmuck,” the difference between the male member as metaphor for “stupid, foolish, or detestable” or simply clueless, as the euphemism for a smaller organ his surname suggests. Then again, he may now have earned the highest rank in the Yiddish lexicon of penile designations for the unwise--a total “putz.”
In calling Anthony Weiner “half-smart” before he finally admitted that he Tweeted that picture of his genitals and lied about his computer being hacked with messages to women, I had seriously misjudged his puerility, an unforgivable offense in the current political climate.
But such embarrassment pales in comparison to that of his longtime friend. On the Daily Show, Stewart makes a few jokes about pictures of his contemporary’s relative virility and bare-chested buffness, then quickly swivels to the indictment of the Congressman’s human shield, John Edwards, whose exploits make Weiner’s look like a schoolboy prank, as his refusal to resign suggests.
We are in “Crimes and Misdemeanors” territory here, Woody Allen’s bitter 1989 rumination on male morality linking adultery all the way from embarrassment to murder. Granted that Weiner’s is not a hanging offense, how much punishment fits the crime?
Matt Bai, a reporter who closely covered Edwards for seven years, is torn in contemplating what would be suitable, noting “what’s disappointing to anyone who once took Mr. Edwards seriously...is the absence of...genuine, unqualified contrition. Not the kind that says: ‘Look, I said I was sorry a hundred times, and I know I was a crappy husband, but I observed the letter of the law and I intend to prove it.’ But more the kind that says: ‘I know how I’ve betrayed people who believed in me, and I’ll submit to whatever punishment you want to mete out, and when it’s over I vow to make use of the talents I’ve been given with whatever days I have left.’
“There’s not much point in rooting against John Edwards in court, unless you just like to see a man suffer a cascade of indignity. But it’s also hard to root for him as long as he seems to think that his misguided actions as a father, legal or not, were somehow disconnected from the moral resonance of his politics.”
Weiner is apologizing to everyone in sight, eyeing eventual political redemption. But as he serves his sentence in the halls of Congress and John Edwards ends up wherever, maybe justice would best be served by having both spend time under house arrest, endlessly watching tapes of themselves lying to the public about their phallic exploits.
In that case, Edwards’ sentence would be much longer, the difference between punishing crimes and misdemeanors.
Update: In trying to make amends for letting Weiner off the hook the night before, Jon Stewart literally bleeds for the cause Tuesday by slicing his hand on broken glass, another case of innocent bystanders getting hurt. The wrong people always get punished.