Weinergate: The Search for Meaning!

Mickey Kaus Columnist
Font Size:

Weinergate: The Hunt for Meaning! Early in the Weiner scandal, Josh Marshall emailed his Talking Points Memo staff, telling them to report the news but to remember

 that this is fundamentally a moronic story. There’s no deeper issues. No broader anything it gets to. This is a congressman with serious impulse control who’s sending muscle shot and maybe penis shot pictures to women on the internet.

It’s just part and parcel of the ridiculousness of politics and public life in America. We can cover every part of it and not ever lose site of that basic fact. [E.A.]

“No deeper issues”? That’s sort of a challenge isn’t it? I mean, Weinergate is now at the thumbsucking stage. It’s time for slideshows of Weinergate’s Greatest Hits, Howie Kurtz’s traditional piece on how it was obvious all along— and for week-in-review takeouts on the Larger Point. Is the press up to that last task? My own take:

Weiner is a victim of web-driven macho partisan cocooning. That is, it was the fight-back partisanship of the Daily Kos community that gave him a group of linked-up followers he could make himself a hero of. This included dozens or more women (real or virtual) who idolized him whom he could contact in the space of a coffee break. Weiner was arrogant enough to think he could get away with recklessly exploiting his fame and status in this Web niche in part because he figured his pack would always defend him in a pinch. He was too essential to the fight. The ingenious instant wisdom of the Kos crowd would be too powerful in a clinch. He was almost right about that, though in the end it proved a delusion–a delusion encouraged and enabled by the cocooning phenomenon itself, by the always-on flock of “Weiner, yes” netizens giving him positive feedback for whatever he thought or did.

Pre-Web, this wouldn’t have happened. Weiner could have made lewd comments to a few followers, but wouldn’t have had instant, intimate access to so many (initially) starry-eyed women at once. He couldn’t have counted on his crowd to mobilize in rapid-response style, and he wouldn’t have been able to wallow in their like-minded approbation. He’d have of necessity heard a more balanced range of opinions. And he wouldn’t have thought he could get away with it. He’d have repressed.

That’s the best I can do! If you have a deeper deeper meaning., let me or Josh Marshall know.

Mickey Kaus