*In the climactic scene of A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character soliloquizes about those protecting the interests of the United States: “You WANT me on that wall! You NEED me on that wall!”
All of the hubbub about Anthony Weiner over the last week reminded me of the love-hate relationship most Americans have with their elected officials, which is ironic because most Americans want someone like Weiner advocating for them. And whether they realize and admit it or not, most Americans need someone like Weiner advocating for them.
Setting aside his politics, the scandal regarding Anthony Weiner’s inappropriate communication with women online revealed four character traits that are assets for a politician. First, Weiner is selfish. Despite being married Weiner was unwilling to limit himself to the sexual attention of just his wife. He wanted and actively sought out more people to direct his sexual attention to. At its core this is a selfish act because as far as we can tell he didn’t consider his wife’s feelings.
Second, Weiner was proactive. He saw someone he found attractive and pursued them. This would seem rather elementary except for the fact that not everyone acts as decisively. Many people do not go after what they want even when it doesn’t violate society’s standards.
Third, Weiner is confident, perhaps to the point of being overconfident. Many people would like to participate in activities that break with social norms and act on their selfish desires but refrain because they understand their behavior will eventually become known. In other words people know they will get caught. Weiner did not; he carried on multiple online relationships precisely because he was confident he wouldn’t get caught.
Fourth, Weiner was duplicitous; this is another way of saying he can compartmentalize. Because most people are not in open relationships it is fair to assume that Weiner was effective in keeping the inappropriate communications from his wife. He kept his wife and family in one box then created and maintained a box for his online interests.
All four of these traits are positives for a politician. Because of limited resources, and because other officials are trying to get as many of those resources as possible, Weiner’s selfishness is functional. It is his job to get as much as possible for the people of New York. He must be selfish.
Weiner’s proactiveness is also something to applaud. Politicians have to draft policy and devise a plan to get their policy adopted. This chain of events cannot happen when politicians procrastinate.
Weiner’s confidence is something common to all politicians, particularly in a representative democracy. It takes someone with a large ego to run for office in our country because simply by running that person announces “I have the answers. I can make everyone’s life better.”
Weiner’s ability to compartmentalize is especially important for those in government because running a country frequently presents multiple issues. Politicians then, often have to do more than one thing at a time. By being married (courting his wife) and sexting other women (courting them), Weiner proved he could tackle two jobs at once.
So Weiner has particular abilities that are valuable for a politician. He is driven to devise a plan that secures the most resources possible for his constituents while working on multiple problems, and is confident that he will solve those problems. Weiner is exactly the kind of person people want representing them in Washington.
But more importantly Weiner is needed in Washington because most people couldn’t fill his shoes. Most people are not as proactive; most people restrain their selfishness; most people are not as good at being duplicitous. And even though many people have confidence, they do not exhibit it or act on it because they fear being labeled obnoxious.
Yes we want Mr. Weiner on that wall. We need him on that wall. And yes he did something he shouldn’t have. But unlike the movie, it wasn’t a crime and a federal case need not be made of it.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected]