People aren’t perfect; we stumble and fall, pick ourselves up and try to learn from our mistakes.  Representative Weiner has been a faithful public servant for nearly 20 years and for that he’s owed a debt of gratitude.  Personal indiscretions should be a matter for friends and family and not aired to the world.  Unfortunately for Mr. Weiner, his foibles have become a public matter, because his slip occurred in a very public venue.

Do we set the standards for our public officials too high?  Perhaps.  We also often hold them in great esteem; the cost for this elevated position is a very watchful eye.  This is not a news flash, or some great revelation that Mr. Weiner would not have been well aware of.  We’ve all seen national politicians display their underbelly to the public, endure the humiliation and eventual banishment from political life.  The choices are few: remain in private life or accept life under the microscope.

The list of politicians that have behaved badly could fill a phone book, yet the lessons are repeated every few years, if not months.  Just in the past few months we’ve seen the California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger baby scandal; Nevada Sen. John Ensign’s affair with a staffer and New York Rep. Chris Lee’s shirtless photo via Craigslist.  A short rewind reminds us of New York Rep. Eric Massa’s inappropriate comments to a male staffer; South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s Brazilian tryst and New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution addiction.  It would seem that New York has more than its share of questionable political and personal judgment.

The public is constantly having to endure the poor judgment of our elected officials, when these are the people we’ve placed in positions of great trust.  We send them to Washington to represent us, make decisions that have great impact upon our lives, when they cannot even manage their own lives.  The ultimate victims are the families and for that we must all take a back seat.  Yet the public has been wronged as well, because those who been entrusted to serve the people have made a pact with all of us to act with honor.

When politicians are out of office their behavior becomes none of our business; the term “private life” means just that.  Whether they screw up in a public venue or not, it no longer has a direct effect on a family in Idaho, or even those who share their same neighborhood.  Unless a private citizen breaks a law it is not a matter of public concern.  The sole exception may be for celebrities, who have exchanged personal privacy for public recognition, and even that has its limits.

Representative Weiner apologized to his constituents, his family and his friends.  Forgiveness is their personal option.  What Mr. Weiner fails to recognize is that he doesn’t only serve the people of his congressional district, he serves us all.  Any one person in the Congress can be the deciding vote on a bill that affects every single person in the country.  This power bestowed upon members of congress demands a single, indispensible trait: trust.

When Andrew Breitbart’s website broke the story of Mr. Weiner sending a photo of himself in his boxers to a 26 year-old woman, Mr. Weiner immediately went into denial mode concocting a story of his twitter account being hacked.  Representative Weiner began to weave a net of deceit to cover up his indiscretions layering lie upon lie.  An apparently bright man, he orchestrated his own demise by parsing words and failing to do the one thing that would’ve given any credence to his stories and that was to contact the Justice Department.  Mr. Weiner was smart enough to realize that falsely reporting a crime is in itself a crime, so he instead took to the airwaves to deny his culpability.

Representative Weiner, in a painful and humiliating public display, held a press conference to admit that he had in fact sent the photo, and many more, to at least 6 other woman over the course of the past 3 years.  Weiner had no choice as more facts came to light and photos, some of a very explicit nature, began to surface.

The position of congressman is one that deserves great respect whether you agree or disagree with a person’s policies; this was the intent of our founders.  We the people grant these individuals a level of trust and bestow upon them significant power over our lives, and ask only that they behave in a manner that does not detract from that position.

Whether Mr. Weiner broke any laws by using any government resources in his dalliance is something for law enforcement and legislative investigations to determine.  The legalities will resolve themselves.  Trust, however, cannot be recovered simply through a dip of the head, tears from the eyes, or admittance of responsibility.  We are a forgiving people.  We can forgive Mr. Weiner, but many of us will never trust his words again.  He needs to concentrate on rebuilding the trust of his family and friends, which will take time.  Rebuilding the trust of the public is nearly an impossible task, because though privately he may be just a man, when he was sworn into office in the “people’s house,” he became an object of respect and admiration, granted an honor that very few have ever received, and the fall from that perch is rarely survivable.

Congressman Weiner needs to rebuild a life now sullied by poor decisions and questionable behavior.  His responsibility to himself and his family must take precedence.  No man, no matter his admissions of fault nor contrition, can serve the country when he has demonstrated his willingness to deceive the public to cover up his own failings and for that reason he should return home to a private life.

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