Thursday, June 02, 2011

"What's a man now/What's a man mean/Is he rough or is he rugged/Cultural and clean?"

The Song: "Real Men," Joe Jackson. Words & music by Joe Jackson. Track 8 of Night and Day, 1982.
When/how acquired: Bootleg cassette copy, 1984; purchased MP3, 2007.
Listen/watch here.

I admit I'm paying more attention than I should to the Anthony Weiner Twitter uproar, in which someone Tweeted a photo of an excited man in his underwear to a Seattle college student. Rep. Weiner's response to all of this has been, to put it mildly, bizarre. The photo might be him, he says, but he didn't send it.

The most logical explanation, which I haven't heard anyone offer, is that Rep. Weiner doesn't manage his own Twitter account. I can't imagine that most public figures do, or at least not full-time. Twitter is fun, but a terrible distraction. I have one author client who rations himself to an hour in the morning and an hour at the end of the day, and another who treats Twitter as a sort of online bar, which I think is exactly right - an entertainment, not a serious medium of communication.

It's an extremely tricky medium for politicians, because it doesn't allow for nuance or consideration. Twitter's about knee-jerk reactions in 140 characters or less, and that's not something any serious politician should be doing. Twitter's also interactive, and engaging the public in an open forum that leaves a permanent record is a high-risk political activity.

So I would guess that most elected officials delegate their Twitter feed to their legislative correspondents (LCs). LCs are the lowest-ranking professional staff in a Congressional office. Their title is their job description: they handle letters and emails that come into the office, providing routine responses where they can and routing action items to legislative assistants, district-office caseworkers, and other branches of government where appropriate. The typical LC is under the age of 25, right out of college, and might be making $27,000 (which is not enough to live independently in Washington, DC; junior Hill staffers almost always live with roommates or in group houses).

Therefore, my first thought when I heard about the Weiner scandal (!) was that an LC had gotten drunk one night and decided to use the Congressman's Twitter account to send a photo of his anatomy to his girlfriend. When the Congressman's office first bungled its response, I assumed it was because Rep. Weiner didn't want to admit that it's not him Tweeting. But now his series of non-explanation explanations and non-denial denials have just gotten weirder and weirder, and I've given up trying to come up with any new theories.

Today's quotation, though, was almost another Joe Jackson line — "Don't you know that it's different for girls?" — because in all seriousness, this is not a situation that a female legislator would ever find herself in. Who takes photos of their own genitalia, clothed or unclothed? Who assumes that anyone else would want to see them? Good grief.

Lady Bracknell and I both disapprove. You have three more chances to see her, tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at Gaslight Theater.


Chris-in-STL said...

C'mon, Ellen, I have a simpler theory for you that fits the facts.

And it is going to shock you!

Anthony Weiner, who has been known to be a "playa" for many years, did it.

Otherwise, Weiner would demand and get an immediate FBI investigation into this. And the FBI computer geeks would figure out who sent it in about 2 minutes by looking at IP addresses and the metadata on the photo file.

Plus, he knows that he can't lie to the FBI because that is a federal crime -- what they got Martha Stewart for, I think.

But he can't ask the FBI to investigate because ... he did it ... and those G-men (G-persons?) would say so.

Hence, his only option is to bluster -- trying to carefully not fully deny the pic is him -- play for time and hope for another massive earthquake to take the media's (and Huma's) mind off the topic.

Now, you might ask, "Why would he be so stupid to send this pic in the first place?"

I have the best answer: He is a GUY!

But don't go by me, I believed Larry Craig just had a "wide stance."

AnswerGirl said...

See, I was guessing that the guilty LC was the son of a major donor, or someone whose identity would make this an even bigger uproar than otherwise.

But you're probably right -- Occam's Razor, the simplest solution is the most likely.

What a maroon, as Bugs Bunny would say.

Chris-in-STL said...

Really, his only defense -- in the absence of an investigation with access to the actual records -- is the old claim that, "No one would be stupid enough to do this."

And that ain't good enough.

If the FBI says that someone else could have sent the pic, I will accept that.