Rep. Anthony Weiner added a trite and clichéd chapter to his saga this weekend by saying that he needs a leave of absence from Congress so that he can get “treatment” for his “problem”. This course of public relations recovery must be very offensive to those that actually suffer from a problem that can be helped with actual treatment.
But this course of action should be offensive to everyone since it only came about when it was discovered that Rep. Weiner had exchanged non-sexual tweets with a 17 year old girl in Delaware.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Democratic leadership. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz have both called for Weiner to resign.
My only question is why the sexual tweets didn’t deem reaction from Democratic leaders last week, but when the non-sexual tweets to a 17 year old came out, the sexual tweets from last week suddenly became offensive? But, that’s another blog entry.
Many of Rep. Weiner’s House colleagues believe that his stint in rehab is simply a ploy to delay the issue, hoping it will blow over.
That may very well be the case, but I think his strategy points out how prevalent and apparently affective the rehab excuse is being used by Weiner’s generation. I don’t mean to employ the generational argument, but let’s be honest. Not too many members of the Greatest Generation ever went to rehab, and Generation X and Y members invented sexting and don’t see it as a problem. So the concept of going to rehab really belongs to the Me generation.
I think the Rehab excuse seems so prevalent because apparently, it works.
I think it works because for one, it offers a delay from dealing with the issue directly. House colleagues can put off actually removing Weiner from Congress themselves while he’s getting “treatment”.
Secondly, the concept of rehab plays on the idea that Americans generally like to give second chances and generally accept apologies. As a country, we’re a pretty forgiving bunch. We don’t forgive everything, but apologizing and taking responsibility for your own improvement gives the impression that you want to make up for your transgression.
Finally, I think this excuse works because as a society, we are convinced that there is a solution and a medical fix for everything. From heartburn to halitosis and from hangnails to hair loss, there’s a pill or a treatment that can fix anything.
If all of those maladies can be fixed by modern medicine, why not arrogance and poor judgment?
Rehab is a real solution for some people who are suffering real problems. Harmful addictions exist that can indeed be helped with authentic rehab.
But I think we all know the difference between an alcoholic getting help and a politician employing a distraction. The ploy will continue until the politicians’ bosses decide that the excuse doesn’t work. I’m not talking about anybody in any leadership position. I’m talking about us, the voters. If we keep accepting the excuse, it will continue to be used.
But if we stop accepting the Rehab excuse, our leaders will be forced to kick their addiction to rehab, cold turkey.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.