Anthony Weiner and the Importance of Shame

weiner_coming_out_of_curtainAt last, the first act of the Anthony Weiner saga has drawn to a close. (I say “first act” because, if you don’t think this clown is coming back at some point, well, go look up Marv Albert on Wikipedia and come back when you’re done. I’ll still be here.)

The whole thing was silly and stupid (and don’t forget hilarious; will there ever be a more perfect convergence of punch line fodder than we have at this moment in history? If comedy had weight, this scandal would be as dense as a neutron star.). But it was also sad on a lot of levels, not least of which being the condition of Anthony Weiner’s soul.  That condition being “bad,” as confirmed once again by his resignation press conference.

First of all, why did he even need to have a press conference?  He could have resigned just as well by sending a memo and slipping out the back door. I recently resigned from a job (because I got another one; not because I posted pictures of my wang all over creation), and I didn’t feel the need to gather everybody around and give a ten minute speech about it. As William Jacobson said, it looked like he was “giving an acceptance speech.”

The reason he had to have a press conference is the same reason he got himself in trouble in the first place: because he is his own biggest fan, and he believes that every word from his mouth and thought from his head is the most precious, wonderful thing in the world. He has no internal regulator to let him know when his own self-serving actions have carried him too far away from generally accepted behavioral norms. In short, he has no shame.

Shame can be a valuable thing.  Experiencing it can teach us valuable lessons about what not to do. Fear of it can keep us from doing things that lead to much more serious consequences than simple embarrassment.

If you don’t have a sense of shame, or if you lose touch with it after a years of surrounding yourself with toadies and boot-lickers (also known as the life of every congressman), then you end up like Weiner—when your accumulated selfishness and stupidity finally come back to bite you, you don’t even realize you’ve been bitten.