BOSTON (CBS) – Anthony Weiner was a man who had everything – a successful career on the rise, a beautiful wife, and, more recently, a healthy son. But after his latest sexting scandal, this one including an inappropriate picture of himself with the little boy asleep nearby, it’s all gone, or soon will be.
His political career is long gone. His wife, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, is leaving him. And after his latest display of abysmal judgement, you can imagine how the child custody deliberations will go. And after two previous appalling episodes where the former congressman was caught sexting with strange women, the jokes all but write themselves.
But while I enjoy a good laugh as much as anyone, I don’t find this spectacle especially amusing. Anthony Weiner is, at best, an addict. At worst, he’s suffering from a serious mental illness.
Medical experts still argue over whether or not sexting is a disease, but surely we can agree that the chronic repetition of risky behavior, even after the sexter is publicly humiliated and the damage to career and family relationships is clear, is a sign of serious personal problems. And how many times do we have to see stories of the damage sexting can do to people before we stop giggling about it?
Anthony Weiner is not an especially sympathetic character. He was a harsh, angry partisan in congress, and his problems are strictly self-inflicted.
But we live in an age when mental illness is just starting to get the serious, sober attention and understanding it requires. It would be a shame if Weiner’s pathetic saga were to set back that progress.