Weiner takes the 'I'm sick, not a degenerate' line
This is too perfect - a reflection of what passes for reality in our modern celebrity besotted world.
When in trouble, declare that your rank, disgusting, and aberrant behavior is the result of some illness like addiction or, in Weiner's case "psychological problems." Enter a treatment center, emerge humbled and vowing you're a changed person, and - voila! All is forgiven and you are welcomed back into celebritydom with open arms.
We Americans have a weakness for this sort of performance art. Just as we have a weakness for underdogs, longshots, and lost causes. Perhaps it's because we can afford to be generous with our affections, or maybe it's a product of an oversized heart. Whatever it is, celebrities and politicians alike have learned how to use the gambit to salvage as much as possible from a rotten situation.
Weiner no more needs to enter a treatment center than does my pet cat Snowball. And at least Snowy demonstrates that she's sorry for her transgression, be it knocking over mama's crystal bowl or sniffing daddy's scotch glass causing it to tip over. Snowball shows the most pregnant attitude of contrition for her sins, slinking to me on her belly after I yell at her, craving affection. Weiner's idea of saying he's sorry is defiantly telling everybody that he won't resign - but will enter rehab of some sort in order to elicit sympathy from his constituents and supporters.
Mr. Weiner has been talking with a therapist in New York City over the past couple of days, as fallout from his online scandal worsened and he absorbed the message from his colleagues and advisers that his conduct reflected not just bad judgment but perhaps a deeper psychological problem.
"Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person," said his spokeswoman, Risa Heller. "In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well."
Ms. Heller would not identify the facility or the precise kind of counseling Mr. Weiner, who has admitted having explicit communications with six women he met online, would receive. She stressed that he was carefully considering the calls from his fellow lawmakers urging him to give up his seat.
Mr. Weiner has been resistant in telephone calls over the past week with Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Israel, who have been warning him that if he does not quit, they will make their case publicly.
They were especially frustrated, according to one high-ranking Democratic official, when Mr. Weiner repeatedly told them he could not resign now because his wife, Huma Abedin, was traveling abroad with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton - an assertion they viewed as an unpersuasive pretext.
Weiner knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew he was being virtually unfaithful (ask your wife how she'd feel if you engaged in explict sexting with another woman and consumated the exchange). He knew the consequences of his actions.
What does he need treatment for? Lack of discipline? Lack of self-control? A casual attitude toward his marriage vows?
These are not signs of illness. They are character flaws. Weiner can no more rid himself of these flaws than he could alter his fingerprints. That's the objective reality of the situation, not the made-for-TV version that Weiner is peddling in order to salvage something of his career.