KNIGHT: Weinergate exposes party differences

Democrats don’t share GOP’s affinity for family values

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According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, New York Rep. Anthony D. Weiner needs some time on the couch, preferably at $300 an hour or whatever psychiatrists charge in his Long Island district.

I’m no shrink, but judge for yourself whether his recent behavior - sexting and twittering risque photos to women not his wife - fits this description of paraphilia:

“The diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV are that the individual has experienced intense sexual urges, arousal or behavior involving the exposure of their genitals to strangers for at least six months. Further, the individual has either acted upon these urges or they cause significant personal distress or interpersonal difficulty.”

Given the nonstop coverage of Mr. Weiner’s denial, confession and subsequent exposes, I’d say he’s experiencing some “interpersonal difficulty.” He must have known that this could happen someday and that “personal distress” could occur given his prominence.

Maybe he figured he would get kid-glove treatment. Mr. Weiner’s fellow Democrats, including New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, are being very, very careful. The Democrats don’t want to offend the sexual libertines who have made the donkey party their natural home. So what rule, then, did Mr. Weiner break that would constitute a removable offense?

How about the baldfaced lies Mr. Weiner told? Sexual hijinks alone usually are not enough to unseat a Democrat. Remember, the party circled the wagons around President Clinton during Monicagate. And when it came out in 2006 that New Jersey Gov. James McGreavey had had an affair with a male aide, he resisted resigning until the lies were no longer sustainable.

In the late 1980s, Rep. Barney Frank’s lover, Stephen Gobie, ran a prostitution ring out of Mr. Frank’s Capitol Hill town house, which was disclosed by The Washington Times in 1989.

As the Boston Globe reported in a 2005 retrospective, “Frank hired Gobie as a driver despite knowing Gobie was on probation for drug possession and for possession of child pornography. Frank used his House privileges to fix Gobie’s parking tickets. He wrote a memo trying to clear Gobie from probation that was disingenuous at best and an outright deception at worst.”

The House issued a reprimand, and Mr. Frank is still very much with us. In 1983, his Massachusetts colleague Rep. Gerry Studds admitted having had sex with a 17-year-old male page 10 years earlier. The House managed to work up a censure vote. Studds literally turned his back on the chamber, signaling his contempt. His constituents echoed that sentiment, re-electing him several more times. In 1996, Congress named a marine sanctuary after him.

Before we leave Massachusetts, let’s not forget the late Edward M. Kennedy’s extramarital adventures, which have not discouraged liberals from lionizing him as a moral paragon.

One exception to the rule that Democrats don’t pay for sex scandals was New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned within two days after the New York Times reported in March 2008 that he had used a prostitute. Of course, Mr. Spitzer went on to better things - his very own talk show on CNN.

The “speak no evil” responses of leading Democrats during Weinergate contrast sharply with the Republican response: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

In 1983, the same day that Studds was censured, the House voted to censure Illinois Republican Rep. Daniel Crane for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female page. Mr. Crane lost his seat the next year.

Sen. John Ensign of Nevada hung on for two years after his affair was revealed in 2009, but he finally resigned. More quickly out was New York Republican Rep. Chris Lee, whose shirtless pic sent to a woman not his wife was too much for House Speaker John A. Boehner, who told Mr. Lee in February to get out of town.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, merely said she was “disappointed” over Mr. Weiner and turned the matter over to an ethics panel. Mr. Lee probably should have been accorded the same protocol, but then, Mrs. Pelosi, unlike Mr. Boehner, is not running a party identified with family values.

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