Monday, June 13, 2011
Political Scandal Goes Digital
It's true that tech stories can sometimes be dry. But it's a sad state of affairs when the first time I see a picture of President Obama on the Yahoo tech news feed, it's because some congressman sent a picture of his junk out over Twitter.
In the latest chapter of the most tawdry tale to wash up on the shores of technology news, the President has joined the chorus of fellow Democrats calling for Andres Weiner to resign. Computers As Humans usually tries to steer around overt politics, but in this instance the events have crossed over into our territory to a certain degree.
Sex scandals are certainly nothing new in politics. Truman reportedly had his mistress, Kennedy his Marilyn and Bill Clinton his Monica Lewinsky. Even in the last 12 months we've seen Elliot Spitzer and his call girls, Arnold and the maid's son, and the John Edwards love child.
But Weinergate is the first political sex scandal to have taken place primarily online.
Computers have opened up avenues of communication that never would have been possible 20 or 30 years ago. Weiner was certainly only engaging in behavior engaged in by a lot of people. However for a high profile rising star in Democratic politics, he certainly did so in a reckless and careless manner. His indiscretions look likely to cost him his career and possibly his marriage.
The Internet has enabled access to just about anyone and anything that exists in the world. As the congressman has shown us, there is a potential learning curve that comes with such potentially unlimited access for some people.
Congressman Weiner's case can certainly be read as a cautionary tale. Computers, video games and the Internet can be compelling even if you're not doing anything tawdry on them. Married to a beautiful, sophisticated woman who heads up Secretary Clinton's staff, Andrew Weiner chose to carry on like a juvenile, sexting pictures of his junk to coeds and blackjack dealers.
Weiner now has earned the dubious honor of proving that compulsive, self-destructive behavior online can be just as damaging as that which takes place in the real world.
Hopefully the congressman will get some help for his problem. And who knows, with a little luck he may even wind up with his own cable news show just as Elliott Spitzer did.