Why Anthony Weiner's Scandal Doesn't Matter But Republican Ones Do

If Anthony Weiner was stupid to have sextual relationships before resigning, he's beyond stupid to have engaged in them again after being caught and resigning. But while his behavior is politically stupid, it's not relevant to his governing.

As someone who doesn't try to pass laws controlling people's sex lives, Weiner didn't violate any of the principles or policies he espouses. When, however, socially conservative Republicans are caught soliciting prostitutes or trying to have gay sex in a bathroom, they demonstrate a double standard and hypocrisy. They engage in the very behavior they want to be illegal for other people but not for themselves. This is the difference.

Let's look at Weiner's record on social issues. Weiner does not, for example, seek to restrict women's reproductive rights.

According the website On The Issues, Weiner, 

- Voted NO on banning federal health coverage that includes abortion. (May 2011)

- Voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions. (Apr 2005)

- Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004)

- Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life. (Oct 2003)

- Voted NO on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info. (Sep 2002)

- Voted NO on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad. (May 2001)

- Voted NO on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes. (Apr 2001)

- Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortions. (Apr 2000)

- Voted NO on barring transporting minors to get an abortion. (Jun 1999)

He voted yes to: 

- Emergency contraception for rape victims at all hospitals. (Sep 2006)

- Provide emergency contraception at military facilities. (Apr 2007)

- Ensure access to and funding for contraception. (Feb 2007)

Not surprisingly, he received a rating of 100% from the pro-choice organization NARAL.

Nor does Weiner seek to legislate sexuality, as is clear in his record on LGBT rights.

He:

- Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Nov 2007)

- Voted NO on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006)

- Voted NO on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)

- Voted NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Sep 2004)

- Voted NO on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration. (Jun 2003)

- Voted NO on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)

- Constitutional Amendment for equal rights by gender. (Mar 2001) 

He voted yes to,

- ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays. (Jun 2009)

- Prohibit sexual-identity discrimination at schools. (Mar 2011)

- Give domestic partnership benefits to Federal employees. (May 2009)

- Recognize the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. (May 2009)

And appropriately, received an 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization.

Weiner does not ground his policy or other people's morality in religion. For instance, he received a rating of 83% from Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU).

And perhaps his best endorsement as a social liberal is receiving an 8% rating from the Christian Coalition for what they consider to be an "anti family-values" record.

Weiner definitely gets some cover for his actions from his voting record. Conservative Republicans, however, do not. A clear case of Republican hypocrisy would be former Idaho Republican Senator, Larry Craig, who was found soliciting sex in a men's bathroom from a man (duh). Take a look at his voting record on LGBT issues, which is obviously extremely relevant to his behavior.

Craig, 

- Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)

- Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)

- Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)

- Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)

- Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)

Craig received a rating of 0% from the Human Rights Campaign. Another example of politically relevant scandals can be found with David Vitter, a current Republican Senator in Louisiana. Vitter confessed to the "serious sin" soliciting prostitutes. While himself a sinner, he has no problem trying to legislate other people's morality and sexual behavior.

Vitter,

- Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)

- Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)

- Voted YES on banning gay adoptions in DC. (Jul 1999)

He also received a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign. Also relevant is Vitter's commitment to basing his policies on religion, which earned him a 0% rating from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Surely the sexual conduct of a politician who wants to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage and wants to allow sexual-orientation discrimination is relevant. And the solicitation of prostitutes, in addition to being illegal, is problematic for a politician who claims to protect the sanctity of marriage. In fact, hilariously, in 2008 Vitter and Craig were two of the ten sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, which would have banned same-sex marriage. Unlike Weiner, Vitter and Craig want people to live up to norms, expectations, and laws they cannot and do not live up to. And that, is the difference.

While I don't think Weiner's online indiscretions themselves should force Weiner to resign, one could argue that his poor judgement (in repeating the very behavior he was caught for and resigned over) makes him unfit to govern. Perhaps this is a compulsion that could actually get in the way of his ability to do his job. I'm not sure if that is true. But it's the only argument that makes sense. 

What do you think? Let me know on Twitter: @kthalps 

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