FIRST-PERSON: What's wrong with New York voters?
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--If New York congressman Anthony Weiner's admission that he engaged in sexually explicit exchanges with a variety of young women via the Internet before and after his recent marriage was not troubling enough, a couple of new polls should be.
A NY1-Marist survey found that 51 percent of registered New York City voters believe Weiner should stay in office and not resign. Thirty percent say he should leave. The congressman represents New York's 9th District which encompasses the Big Apple.
A WABC-TV poll, conducted by Survey USA, found that 41 percent of New York City residents said Wiener should stay in office and 46 percent say he should resign.
No matter which poll you look at, a significant number of New Yorkers seem fine that a man who has exhibited horrible judgment, who lied to them and has engaged in perverse behavior is their representative in Congress.
For the uninitiated in the Weiner situation, on May 27 a compromising photo was posted on Twitter from the congressman's account. The picture was intended for a young lady in Seattle, Wash. Almost immediately, Wiener removed the photo and claimed his Twitter account had been hacked.
For the next 10 days Wiener insisted that he did not send the photo and that he really did not even know the young lady for whom the photo was intended. The congressman maintained that he was a victim of a hack attack and the whole situation was just a really bad joke.
On June 6, conservative commentator and news aggregator Andrew Breitbart announced that he had obtained several explicit photos Weiner had sent to young ladies via the Internet. That same afternoon Weiner held a press conference where he confessed to not only sending the Twitter photo in question, but to also other lewd behavior.
"In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, email, and occasionally on the phone with women I had met online," Weiner said.
The congressman continued, "I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years. For the most part, these communications took place before my marriage, though some have sadly took place after."
Weiner went on to apologize for his behavior and express shame and regret for his actions. Since the congressman's apology, more explicit photos have surfaced and more women have emerged which have complicated the whole sordid situation.
In light of Weiner's confession and the subsequent sleazy details of behavior, a significant number of voters and residents of New York have no problem with the congressman representing them in Washington.
Those who say they don't care what Wiener does in his personal life have not thought the situation through. The congressman, by his own admission, sent sexually charged messages and explicit photos to people he did not know very well, and in some cases not at all.
Any of the recipients of the photos and messages could have blackmailed Congressman Wiener. They could have sold the information to someone who could have used the information in an effort to influence votes. The possible scenarios could go on and on.
Weiner's clear absence of judgment is reason enough for New York voters to expect him to step down.
Exacerbating the situation, Wiener lied to everyone for ten days. Of course, he lied to his wife for a much longer period of time. Not only did Weiner lie, he sought to shift blame to some nefarious, non-existent hacker which some in the media believed to be Andrew Breitbart.
The cynical among us have come to accept deception and outright lies from politicians. "How do you know when a politician is lying? When his lips are moving," goes the old joke. However, it takes quite a bit of hubris to be caught red-handed and then lie in an effort to hide your behavior.
There is no doubt that Anthony Wiener's admission to being an aficionado of sexting is disturbing. However, even more troublesome is that a significant number of New Yorkers don't seem to mind that a man they elected to represent them has exhibited poor judgment, lied to them and engaged in perverse behavior.
When constituents do not hold elected officials accountable for their actions, both political and personal, the electorate gets poor and compromised leaders -- and deservedly so.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.