Once again I find myself writing about this topic, the tendency in democratic politics for candidates and officials of potentially substantial merit to be disqualified on the basis of sexual behavior. When last I ruminated on this subject, the individual under attack was David Petraeus. Today it is, for the second time, Anthony Weiner the former New York congressman who is attempting to resurrect his career with a run for mayor of New York City. The revelation is apparently that, sometime after Weiner resigned from congress, he sent another person sexually explicit photos. The condemnation has been seemingly near-universal, and, I would argue, near-universally misplaced.
Since 9/11, we’ve all heard the refrain. The world changed, suddenly everything was dangerous where before it was placid, and anyone who did not take national security really, really seriously had, as George Bush put it “a September 10th attitude”. Recalling all of this, the resignation of David Petraeus over his extramarital affair reeks even more than it usually does when a political figure is pushed out not because of any professional failure or display of incompetence, not for any meritocratic purpose, but merely due to sex.