MIAMI (CBS4) – New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s mea culpa over his lewd tweets on the web was greeted in South Florida Tuesday largely by cynicism from a public all too accustomed to hearing politicians apologizing for covering up what goes on under the covers.
“Stupid. Pigs. Dogs. I could go on,” said Angie Lopez outside the Whole Foods market in Pinecrest.
Weiner, a Democrat, admitted on Monday to lying over the last week about unseemly photos of himself that he sent via Twitter to at least six women with whom he has had “internet relationships.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, visiting Miami with a group of congressional colleagues Tuesday, said she wouldn’t want to be “the first to cast stones,” but said there should be a House investigation into whether Weiner violated ethical standards or misused his office or government resources.
Ros-Lehtinen could not resist a moment of levity.
“I just wonder what’s with these guys,” she said, laughing, as she smacked Congressman Jeff Miller with a clipboard as he stood beside her at a news conference.
Miller, a Republican from North Florida, took a far more serious tone, saying Weiner had brought “dishonor on the House of Representatives and should go.”
At a restaurant in Doral, Miami-Dade resident Andrea Schaefer said of the Weiner affair, “It’s strange, what men do.”
Weiner joins a long list of politicians – former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former President Bill Clinton, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sandford, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Senator John Edwards, to name a few – who have been embroiled in matters of questionable sexual conduct and infidelity.
Most have lied when first confronted. Bill Clinton delivered a doozy when the scandal involving his Oval Office relationship with a Whitehouse intern first broke.
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky,” Clinton said in a disingenuous sound bite that will live in perpetuity. The lie was undone by DNA on a little blue dress Lewinsky provided to special prosecutors who were probing whether Clinton has committed perjury in an unrelated case.
Most interviewed in South Florida Tuesday found the lying to be the most reprehensible feature of politicians caught cheating.
“I think honesty is the best policy, always, even if it’s the hardest thing to do,” said Stephanie Nadeau in Pinecrest. “Because then you just look like a jerk when the truth does come out, and it always comes out.”
A question hanging, will Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, forgive and forget. Ironically, Abedin works for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who forgave her husband Bill’s infidelity.
One man, sipping coffee at El Tropico restaurant in Doral, said Abedin should forgive her husband.
“We all need some forgiveness from time to time,” he said.
Back in Pinecrest, Angie Lopez took a polar opposite view.
“I would not forgive him, never,” she said.
Some thought all the coverage of the Weiner, and other political sexual affairs, has been overdone.
“I think the media is paying too much attention to it,” said Alvaro Siles in Doral. “I have better things to be doing with my time.”
The media has not always made news of politicians’ dalliances.
John F. Kennedy was known to carry on with other women – even in the Whitehouse – when he was president, but a circumspect media viewed such matters as off limits to publication.
The news media tradition of generally leaving politicians’ sex lives alone was transformed in 1987 when rumors began circulating that Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart was involved in an extra-marital affair. Hart denied it and dared the media to follow him around. The Miami Herald did, and observed a comely young model, Donna Rice, leaving Hart’s Washington, D.C. townhouse. Later, the Herald obtained a photo of Rice sitting on Hart’s lap in Bimini aboard an aptly named yacht, The Monkey Business.
Since the Gary Hart affair, sex, lies and politicians have been viewed as fair game for news coverage, as Anthony Weiner is now learning.