WaPo's Milbank, Politico's Glueck Make Strained Comparisons of GOP Politicians to Weiner

July 28th, 2013 10:48 PM

The situations involving disgraced and relapsed former Congressman Anthony Weiner and Ben Quayle, who hasn't been in politics for about a year, are very analogous. Just ask Katie Glueck at the Politico. Oh, and the the Weiner situation is also very analogous to that of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who has returned $21,000 worth of gifts he should never have taken from a businessperson. Just ask Dana Milbank at the Washington Post.

There appears to be some kind of unwritten rule that you can't attempt to analyze a Democrats' scandalous involvement without dragging a Republican into the mix, no matter how distant or irrelevant the connection. First, let's look at Glueck with Quayle and Weiner (bolds are mine throughout this post):

TheDirty.com: First Ben Quayle, now Anthony Weiner

Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner catapulted back into the spotlight this week when a gossip website posted graphic, sexually charged allegations about the contender. But this isn’t the first time thedirty.com has rocked the political world.

In 2010, right before the Arizona GOP primary, POLITICO reported that then-congressional contender Ben Quayle had previously served as a contributor to DirtyScottsdale.com, the forerunner to thedirty.com. The son of former Vice President Dan Quayle had operated under a pseudonym.

Quayle did acknowledge that he knew Richie and had connected him to an intellectual property attorney. ...

Quayle, for his part, went on to win his 2010 races before losing his seat last year in a Republican primary. He is now a senior director in the government and public affairs division at Clark Hill PLC, a law firm.

Meantime, thedirty.com has a section devoted to “dirty politics” which this week is dominated, naturally, by Weiner. A woman has alleged on the site that she and the former Democratic congressman had a sexually explicit online relationship that started last summer and stretched until the winter.

This is such thin comparative gruel that several Politico commenters rightly lambasted Glueck:

"Politico has to make liberals feel better about Weiner by making half of their story about a Republican who had a scandal three years ago."

"Way to go, making this story mostly about a 3 year old non scandal."

What is the story here? Slow day?

Milbank's Friday write-up is arguably worse, as he invented a term ("McWeiner") to try to make Weiner's and McDonnell's situation equivalent. Of course they aren't. Here are excerpts:

The McWeiners of the world

... that brings me to this week’s McWeiner controversy.

Most news accounts treated these as two separate scandals: Anthony Weiner, the disgraced Democratic congressman and would-be mayor of New York, had been exposed again as a digital flasher, sending “selfie” pictures of his privates to women. Bob McDonnell, the Republican governor of Virginia, was found to be taking gifts and loans from a businessman McDonnell had helped.

Their offenses — particularly their responses upon being caught — are much the same.

By coincidence, both men found themselves apologizing for their misdeeds on the same day, July 23. McDonnell’s was cowardly, done via Twitter while he was out of the country; Weiner’s was handled in yet another bizarre news conference. But both were reluctant, their statements less expressions of contrition than naked efforts to make the problems go away. These were the apologies of narcissists.

“I want you to know that I broke no laws,” McDonnell wrote in a statement expressing regret not for the gifts he took but for “the embarrassment” — which occurred when he was found out.

Weiner, though acknowledging his misbehavior, quickly pivoted to blaming others. “With 49 days left until primary day, perhaps I’m surprised that more things didn’t come out sooner,” he said. “This was a very public thing that we had happen to us,” he added, as if somebody else had forced him to send out photos of his genitals.

Well, let's see, Dana. For starters, I don't recall McDonnell, who definitely shouldn't have done what he did, running to the New York Times with his wife for a lengthy write-up falsely pretending to be reformed.

Second, assuming McDonnell is right in saying that he broke no laws, the same can't be said of Weiner if he did any sexting or lewd form of communication with any underage person. There is more than a little evidence that he did just that, and in fact that "Weiner’s potentially inappropriate contact with underage girls was the ultimate reason he was forced to resign."

I don't recall the press feeling obligated to drag discussions of Willam "Cold Cash" Jefferson into reports or analyses of corrupt Republican former Congressman "Duke" Cunningham, both of whom went to prison last decade for bribery. Unlike the two forced comparisons above, there were genuine parallels between what Jefferson and Cunningham did. The press eagerly identified Cunningham as a Republican. But with Jefferson, there was clear avoidance of even giving him significant coverage, and an especially strong reluctance to tag him as a Democrat.