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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Weighing in on Weiner

June 28, 2011|By Joe Puglia

Usually I refrain from commenting on politics or the antics of politicians. I don’t wear my ideology on my shirtsleeve, nor would I ever attempt to dissuade one from their political persuasion. To our detriment, our politics are often imbedded in our identity, making us vehement in our point of view and a prisoner thereof. We lose the capacity to think critically.

However, I feel compelled to weigh in on the recent behavior of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned this month after scandalous behavior. We all fall from grace, it’s inevitable; but his transgressions are incidental to a much larger issue.

My problem with the congressman is centered on his rationale: “Since I didn’t break any laws, there’s no need to resign,” he said, before finally giving into pressure.

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But I have more of problem with his constituents who assert that a man’s personal morality is his own business. According to a Marist College Public Opinion Poll, 56% of registered voters in Weiner’s district said he should not resign. The Huffington Post condoned such sexually explicit behavior of men in high office as acceptable and had called Weiner’s behavior normal.

The contention, “As long as he represents us efficiently, he should stay in office,” is an aberration of the covenant between an elected official and the people.

Since humanity’s earliest differentiation between right and wrong, trust, integrity and dignity have been foundational between leader and follower. Pope Benedict XVI tells us, “Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.”

Character counts because it is the framework that supports everything we do. We are not compartmentalized beings whose private selves are somehow divorced from our public selves. Those who lack honor in private will lack honor in public. We don’t change when we go to Congress.

How does one discount morality from the exercise of high office? Where’s the trust? How could you be confident with the judgment of one who is morally suspect?

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