Is Anthony Weiner’s sex-t life relevant to public office?

Peter Beinart thinks Weiner should stay in office and the public should quit reveling over his disgrace.

He writes at The Daily Beast:

Truth be told, I don’t think the real reason pundits are baying for Weiner’s head has anything to do with his ability to be a good congressman. It’s more primal than that. We live in a kick-them-while-they’re-down culture. We love to see the powerful humiliated because it proves that they were no better than us to begin with. Yet we simultaneously imagine that because they’re powerful and famous, they don’t need the empathy that we’d desire were we in their stead. Instead of being moved by their suffering, we revel in it.

Credible allegations of nonconsensual sex—the kind of thing Dominique Strauss-Kahn is alleged to have done—are absolutely fair game. But when it comes to adultery and virtual adultery between consenting adults, it’s way past time that prominent figures in the media loudly declare that it is none of their business, and they won’t join the scrum.

Columnists and talk show hosts who obsess over trivialities such as Weinergate should be called out by their peers. And politicians asked about their consensual sex lives by journalists should say that they will answer on condition that the reporters and their editors answer the same questions about theirs.

As far as we know, Weiner didn’t break any laws, abuse his power or mistreat his online lady loves, in which case he probably doesn’t deserve complete political ruin. But as far as his continued fitness for public office is concerned, there is an issue of damaged public trust. Weiner may not be Strauss-Kahn, and adultery may not be the most egregious of misdeeds, but Weiner betrayed the woman to whom he is meant to be most loyal, and if his own wife can’t trust him, why should we? On the other hand, unlike former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, Weiner isn’t responsible for ordering the nation’s teenagers into war so the extent to which we need to trust him is limited.