Watergate was nothing, a petty burglary gone wrong. The scandal that ensued enshrined the now famous adage that the cover-up is worse than the crime. Despite Richard Nixon’s folly which led to the first resignation of a sitting President, countless politicians have ignored the moral of his story and have fallen into the same trap.
Today we saw one of the great champions of progressive causes self destruct before our eyes. Last week, news first surfaced that New York Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner had sent a lewd photo of himself to a female over Twitter. Weiner denied sending the photo, claiming his account had been hacked. Oddly though, he said that he couldn’t say “with certitude” whether or not the picture depicted him. This inability of Weiner to identify his own fully packed pair of underpants left a suspicious stink over the whole affair. My guess had been that Weiner sent the photo to someone as a gag and it got into the wrong hands.
Today, of course we learned the truth. Not only did the underpants belong to Weiner but he had Tweeted this photo to a young woman in Seattle. Again, ala Richard Nixon, the revelation of wrong-doing was really not the story. The story was the week of bold-faced lying that preceded today’s confessional press conference. Apparently, like Donald Trump’s fictional investigators looking for the truth behind Obama’s birth, Weiner had his own fictional security team dissecting the hacking of his account. Perhaps most grievous of all was that Weiner lent credibility to Andrew Breitbart who had said last week that Weiner’s online behavior was reputed to be beyond the pale.
Weiner says he will not resign. Whether he can get beyond this in the tradition of David Vitter or finally take the fall as John Ensign did weeks ago remains to be seen. What remains even more puzzling is why men from Nixon to Spitzer to Vitter to Craig to Ensign to Clinton to Edwards believe their lies will not be discovered eventually. Mistakes are human. We all make them. Mistakes in and of themselves might not ruin our credibility. The cover-ups always do.