Anthony Weiner's scandal does not require understanding complicated lobbying laws (Jack Abramoff) or how kickbacks were funneled through labyrinthine layers of bureaucracy (Duke Cunningham), nor does it depend on a partisan view of an issue, like hiring a 24-year-old with no finance experience to remake the entire stock exchange of Iraq. No, it centers on something simple that everyone can relate to: boners on the Internet. And yet, pundits' analysis of Weinergate is still highly dependent on their ideological viewpoint, with liberals defending the New York Democrat even as his hacking claim looked less than credible. Over the past week, Weiner made it pretty hard to defend him, and liberals slowly went through the all the stages of coping before accepting, with the news of Weiner's wife's pregnancy, that his behavior is, in fact, a pretty gross. Behold, our timeline of the five stages of liberal Weiner grief.
Salon's Joan Walsh became the target of much conservative Twitterly derision when she wrote an article June 1 titled "Lessons I Won't Learn from Weinergate." Walsh was skeptical that Weiner's crotch shot was real--and even if it was? "I will never, ever take the word of Andrew Breitbart or anyone in his army of political sewer workers, over the word of someone who denies his claims, without independent proof. After Breitbart's hit-job on Shirley Sherrod, as well as the selectively and deceptively edited tapes he used to bring down ACORN, his victims will always deserve the benefit of the doubt."
On the same day at The New Republic, James Downie posted an "EXCLUSIVE" that explained the metadata from the dirty Twitter pic was inconsistent with that of a photo that was known to come from Weiner's camera. And like many liberal blogs, Liberal Values' Ron Chusid pointed to a post a Cannonfire that claimed to exonerate Weiner by pointing to a security flaw in the photo posting service yfrog, which Weiner used.
Weiner told Luke Russert that he couldn't say with "certitude" that the crotch shot wasn't him, but still denied sending the picture, the afternoon of June 1. On June 2, The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart was "mystified" by Weiner's handling of the scandal. Still, he gave the New Yorker the benefit of the doubt: "While there are many theories out there, I subscribe to the one that says Weiner is a red-blooded American man who uses his tech savvy to not just tell but show his beautiful, high-powered and hyper-traveled wife how much he misses her."
At Daily Intel, Chris Smith was frustrated on June 2:
Whatever the facts surrounding the photo that may or may not show the congressman's boxer-brief endowment, Weiner's reaction to questions about the trouser-tweet has been amateurish. ... Okay, so Weiner is embarrassed (and let's not forget the role of Andrew Breitbart in getting this started) -- but if this is how he deals with uncomfortable personal questions, voters are going to have a tough time imagining him leading the city in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
At Balloon Juice, Mistermix felt the same way on June 3:
Since “hacking” yfrog is clearly very easy, I’m at a loss as to why Weiner is being so goddam evasive and mealy-mouthed about the whole incident, instead of just trotting out a couple of nerds to explain the weakness of yfrog to the press. I’m not saying the story would have gone away, but it would have gone down a different path entirely, one that’s a hell of a lot less interesting than “I can’t say with certitude” that it isn’t me.
Weiner tearfully admitted to having cyber affairs with six women over three years Monday. Okay, so maybe Weiner is an Internet sex pervert--but Republican sex perverts are worse!