*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
It’s difficult to understand why people around the world, not just in America, are paralyzed by their own prurience and mesmerized over other people’s sex lives. It is easy to understand why, then, media rushes to any story that has some kind of sexual element even when a public figures or celebrities are not involved: sex sells copies. What is curious indeed, and reminiscent of an adolescent male raging with hormones, is the recent flood of stories and interest in connecting a semi-public figure’s predilection to “sexting” with a presidential campaign.
However foolish it seems to tie former congressional representative Anthony Weiner’s “sexting issue” to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, when one comprehends that this is patriarchal America and the candidate for the nation’s highest office being linked to Weiner’s “problem” is a woman, then this non-campaign story makes sense in a uniquely American twisted way.
First, and this is why the Anthony Weiner sexting story is a non-campaign story, it is important to remind all “interested” parties whether they are perverts, Republicans or media that former congressman Anthony Weiner doesn’t hold any position with, and is in no way part of, the Hillary Clinton for president campaign; he just isn’t. It is true that his now-separated spouse, Huma Abedin, is a close confidante of Clinton’s and an important part of the campaign, but that is where any connection to Anthony Weiner or his sexting problem ends. In fact, in a different culture, the public would have never learned about the Weiner-Abedin separation or why it came about; but this is America and even stories about a public figure sending questionable pictures over the Internet are big deals with the media, but this one is not remotely a presidential campaign story.
Still, the media had to make a connection and actually make a comparison to Donald Trump’s campaign hiring a Breitbart organization fanatic and claim that if white supremacist Steve Bannon and his issues are fair game, then Anthony Weiner sexting cannot possibly be “off limits” and presents a serious problem for the Clinton campaign. Maggie Haberman with the New York Times posted a Tweet saying as much:
“The problem for Clinton team – after Democrats repeatedly pointed to Bannon personal past, going to be hard to argue Weiner is off limits.”
No, in fact, it is very easy to “argue Weiner is off limits.” Because where Bannon, replete with his personal abusive past and his white supremacist present, is running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Anthony Weiner is not now and never was any part of the Clinton campaign.
To put this into proper perspective, claiming that Weiner’s sexting sickness is a “problem for the Clinton team” and a valid presidential campaign issue is tantamount to saying that one of Donald Trump’s campaign workers spouses’ indiscretions are valid presidential campaign issues. This kind of patriarchal mindset only applies to Hillary Clinton because she and her aide Abedin are women. One expected Donald Trump to make the Abedin-Weiner separation a presidential issue and a topic for campaign attacks; he is a bonafide living walking obscenity and few were surprised he adeptly fulfilled that role. But the mainstream media? Really? And a woman political correspondent for the New York Times to boot? Really??
This story is only about Anthony Weiner sending pictures over the Internet. Of course it is politically off-limits because it is not a political or presidential campaign story. It is also of no importance to better understanding the candidates’ stances on issues that impact voters’ lives. For dog’s sake, Anthony Weiner is not only not with the Clinton campaign, he is not a sitting politician and he is not running for any political office; he is a “sexter.”
Perhaps Ms. Haberman was joking, but it doesn’t seem like that was the case. Whether she realized it or not, with an ignorant population listening, Donald Trump’s absurd contention that Huma Abedin went home every night and shared secrets with her then-husband appeared to be valid and “within campaign limits” based on Ms. Haberman’s claim.
It is really too bad, too, because it reinforces America’s patriarchal mindset with a conspicuous cliché that Anthony Weiner’s bad habit reflects poorly, and according to the Trump campaign dangerously, on both Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton. Republicans tried that nasty tactic on Hillary Clinton in the past when her husband exercised extremely poor judgment. It is a bovine excrement concept that a woman can be held accountable for her husband’s indiscretions, and claiming they are “not off limits” as part of a presidential campaign is beyond irresponsible.
That this story made the news at all, much less political news, is a damning indictment of America’s politics and mainstream media. Of course one expected it would appear in supermarket tabloids; sex sells even if it’s not “real” sex. But even “real” sex stories have no place in campaign politics and that is particularly true if the alleged perpetrator is not part of a campaign.
The reason this story became about two prominent women is due in part to journalists “pretending it’s a presidential campaign issue” and not just something tabloids use to excite prurient perverts; which is all the story really is. It is certainly not about any woman.
Image: Screen capture/CBS News