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Jewish Journal

Why Powerful Men Like Anthony Weiner Self-Destruct

by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

June 13, 2011 | 9:25 am

Anthony Weiner should resign, but not for the reasons you think. True, he has disgraced his office and broken the people’s trust. And yet we’re well aware of how many public servants are deeply flawed with out-of-control libidos, yet do a lot of good for the people. Just because a man is terrible at being a husband does not mean that he can’t be a good public servant. JFK was arguably the worst husband in the history of the US presidency, claiming virtually any woman with a pulse as mistress. Yet he is still missed by the American people and rated highly as a President.

Added to being a lousy husband is the fact that Weiner is a liar. But not telling the truth is what we expect from politicians who say almost anything to get elected. We’ve all heard the old joke about knowing that a politician is lying because his lips are moving.

Rather, Weiner should resign for personal reasons.

He needs help.

Not sexual help, as this was never about sex. He had sex with none of these women. Less so was this about pornographic titillation, something Weiner could have easily gotten from countless websites where he would not have been caught.

No, Weiner needs help to overcome self-destructive tendencies that border on a death wish and that will consume him if he ignores them. Any elected official who tweets his swollen male appendage to a complete stranger and takes pictures virtually naked in the congressional gym is throwing his life and career in the air with no knowledge of where it will land. This is the behavior of someone with a subliminal desire for total self-annihilation. And no doubt it is the degree of his self-destructive tendencies that is giving his wife pause about staying with him much more than any bizarre sexual fetish.

Bill Clinton exhibited the same inclination to self-immolation when he had sex in the Oval Office, the single most watched and guarded place on earth. He knew full well what his staff and Secret Service must have thought when a young intern – with no official business with the President – went in repeatedly to claim so much time of the busiest man on earth. But Clinton didn’t care. He shared the same self-destructive tendencies that were also demonstrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger in having sex with a woman that worked in his house and was around his wife day and night, even keeping her on staff for a dozen years after she had his child. These are the marks of men who have become so deeply cynical about life that the only adrenaline rush that will satisfy is one where they their lives off a cliff. These are all men who live with an unending craving for love and incessant need for attention, forever proving themselves, and therefore despising their very existence which involves an eternal feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness. Men who hate themselves this much and strive eternally for the validation of others harbor a secret wish that, in way or another, the inner torment will cease. That’s why they play Russian Roulette with their lives. Anything to dull the pain.

To say that Weiner has a death-wish sounds serious but is actually quite common to the Broken American Male. They are looking for anything that will deaden the never-ending inner ache. That’s where numbing agents like alcohol, workaholism, and drugs come in, with sex being the anaesthetizing drug of choice. Sexual climax brings a feeling of emotionlessness, detachment, and numbness which quiets the feeling of anxiety and nervousness, however briefly. Here is also why sex becomes so deeply addictive, as it’s being pursued for the instant ‘hit’ it provides. But since it involves no deep connection to another human being, it is insubstantive in nature and thus the hit can only be sustained in ever-increasing doses.

Anthony Weiner will not resign. They’ll have to push him out, pry his cold hands from the door of his Congressional office. In his mind this seat is all he has. It defines him. Take it away and in his mind he becomes the proverbial tree in the forest that falls without anyone witnessing or hearing it. Without the bells and whistles of success Weiner sees himself as non-existent. No doubt he fears that his wife will leave him as well, convinced as he is that she only married him because of his office.

I am of a serious mind to run against Congressman Weiner to highlight the broken state of American manhood and how we must finally address it rather than watch more decent men combust. A run against Weiner might just provide the platform to extol the values void in America. America is in desperate need of new ideals, especially as it pertains to men in the public arena. Mark my words: there will be an increase in sexual scandals. Until we finally address the depressing state of the American male – how he has been reduced to an automaton designed to pursue power, money, or fame with scant emphasis on the cultivation of his humanity and personhood – we will continue to witness men acting out, doing anything they can to feel sexy, desirable, and salve their macerated egos.

The solution is a new set of values for American men that defines success first and foremost as behaving like a gentleman and declaring as failures all those who may have conquered the world but who have broken the hearts of those closest to them. It is the man who cheats on his wife who is a failure even if he has a hedge fund. It is the man who has no time for his children who is a loser even if he’s a Senator. And it is the man who degrades women by treating them as naught but the walking fulfillment of his libido whose life is a disappointment, even as jets around in his Gulfstream V.

A female friend of mine told me that while she agrees with my theory of the Broken American Male, she discovered, in having discussed it with her boyfriend, that it is not an idea popular among men. I disagree. It is not popular among boys who masquerade as men. But there are still a few of us who, recognizing our inner state of brokenness and permanent feeling of inadequacy, want to stop being hunter-gatherers – impressing the world with our flashy possessions – and instead light up the world with the luminescence of our souls.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values Network, and will shortly publish “Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself.” Follow him Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post and Newsweek call “the most famous Rabbi in America,” whom The Jerusalem Post lists as one of the...

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