Just like any number of dopey pants-down celebrities before him, our good friend Anthony Weiner has checked himself into rehab. The lesson he’s learned from those who’ve gone before him is simple: you can’t be redeemed if you don’t do your penance. It’s hard to get that all-important People cover story unless you lay low and act humble in a place called Reflective Pines or something like that for a little while first.
Perhaps I’m being too cynical. In the interest of presenting both sides of the story, I’ll quote Mr. Weiner himself (or, more likely, his PR firm) on the subject: he will be taking a "short leave of absence to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person." Nowhere in anything I’ve read does Weiner specify that he’ll be receiving treatment for sex addiction, but I think it’s safe to guess that’s where his train is ultimately headed.
This is the point at which my blood begins to heat up a bit, and not at all because I’ve now been forced to see pictures of a legislatin’ dude in a low-down, no-shirt mood ad nauseum. Weiner isn’t an addict. Weiner is an idiot. Weiner is a simpering man-child whose ego has allowed him to convince himself that his position of power negates any possible negative repercussions of his pathetically adolescent behavior. Sexting pictures of your no-no-parts when you’re a hormone factory of a teenager is one thing; consider it the modern-tech equivalent of “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” and chalk it up to the pains of being that age. Engaging in the same behavior as a forty-six year old man is considerably more problematic; a manifestation of arrested development writ epic, to put it mildly.
On the one hand, yes, I agree that it is high time for this jackass to slouch on home for a while with his, er, tail between his legs and sit in the corner until he learns how to behave in polite company. Where I begin to become angry is when the label “rehab” is hung on top of it all. Without rehab, Weiner is a creepy jerk who never learned how to behave around women. His actions are unquestionably his fault, and the results of them are unquestionably his responsibility. Throw him in rehab, though, and suddenly voila: it’s a disease. It’s not his fault; he’s an addict who can’t possibly help himself. Before you know it, you’ve got soft little Hollywood enablers like Dr. Drew buzzing around like flies, doing nothing but massaging Weiner’s ego. It’s not your fault, Anthony. You’re really a good boy. We’ll just treat you for your “addiction” and then everything will be swell and you’ll never have to say you were wrong. Isn’t life just sweet?
Certainly I’m no expert from a medical standpoint, but I’ve always kind of dismissed sex addiction as malarkey. To a certain extent, we’re all addicted to sex; after all, the continuance of our species depends on it. What’s more, it’s fun. Logically, the way to deal with that is to find someone you like whose attitudes towards sex and exclusivity are compatible with yours and then get to grunting. Most “sex addicts” you read about are celebrities: rock stars, actors, athletes, etc. The sex they claim to be addicted to seems to me to be more of a manifestation than the problem itself: they are, in fact, addicted to power and attention; indiscriminate sex is simply a way for them to exert the former while basking in the latter. If nothing else, this description seems to fit Anthony Weiner like a pair of tighty-whitey Fruit of the Looms.
Really, it’s simple: Weiner is a guy who let his swollen ego control his large head, which in turn gave Twittering orders to his smaller head. He’s a man who made a string of terrible decisions, and he should have to answer to his family for them. He is not, however, some poor little victim of a “disease” who didn’t know any better. He is a man who acted incredibly foolishly, and it is now time for him to own both his actions and their results. As I said in my first post about all of this, I’m not truly convinced that this should result in the surrender of his office; from what I’ve seen of his record before this scandal, he seems like a man who fulfilled the duties of his elected position with aplomb. But if he truly wants me to believe that he’s some helpless addict who couldn’t tell the difference between appropriate behavior and his own conduct, then I hope he doesn’t let the door hit his naked, poorly photographed ass on the way out.