My Take: Why Anthony Weiner's public confession failed
Rep. Anthony Weiner at a a Monday press conference at which he revealed having 'inappropriate' online relationships.
June 8th, 2011
10:19 AM ET

My Take: Why Anthony Weiner's public confession failed

Editor's Note: Susan Wise Bauer is a historian and writer whose books include The Art of the Public Grovel: Sexual Sin and Confession in America.

By Susan Wise Bauer, Special to CNN

It’s a familiar scene by now: The politician is caught with his pants down, even if his boxers are still up. He feints, spins, lies and ducks. And then, finally, he breaks down in tears, apologizing to us, to his wife, to his constituency and, occasionally, to his God.

The sequence is monotonously predictable, but we’re still riveted.

And with good reason. A politician’s confession uncovers a vital truth about his relationship with us, the voters who put him into office.

On a scale of one to ten, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting doesn’t exactly top out on the sexual depravity meter. But it still reveals a willingness to use his power — the power that the voters handed over to him, to use for the public good — for his own selfish ends.

He trawled the internet as “RepWeiner,” not as “Tony.” The photos he reportedly sent to Meagan Broussard were filled with reminders of his status, most notably snapshots of the Clintons in the background.

Read: Weiner's wife a top Hillary Clinton aide

As the American public, we have the right to be upset by this, even if the behavior itself is more adolescent than depraved. When we place a politician in office, we give him authority over us. If he uses that authority for his own gain, rather than for our good, we should object.

The question is: can he hear our objections? And how will he react?

Enter the confession of sin.

Public confession is an act of humility. It is an act which lays down all power, giving it back to the people who handed it over in the first place. It is an act which admits that the politician is no better than us. In that act, Anthony Weiner failed.

Consider the words he used at the Monday press conference at which he admitted to carrying on inappropriate online relationships with several women: I have made terrible mistakes. I panicked. Hugely regrettable mistake. Inappropriate conversations. Terrible judgment.

Consider the words he did not speak: I sinned.

To understand why those unspoken words are so powerful, we have to go back to the evangelical tradition that underlies them. In the United States, public confession was first practiced in revival meetings, where 18th and 19th century preachers encouraged believers to confess to their sin in the presence of their Christian brothers and sisters.

Opinion: Weiner's lies, not tweets, did him in

This confession, meant to refresh their faith and bring them (in the words of 18th century Puritan minister Jonathan Edwards) “new, remarkable comfort,” was an admission of equality. All believers were fallen. All were forgiven by grace alone.

American evangelicalism — which moved, in the 20th century, from the sanctuary to the airwaves — has always been an intensely democratic movement. The complete equality of all mankind in the sight of God is one of its most compelling doctrines; and that egalitarianism is a doctrine which transfers seamlessly into American public life.

“All men are created equal,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, and evangelicalism gives this pronouncement an authoritative theological underpinning.

When a politician is caught abusing his power, the evangelical language of sin provides him with a perfect opportunity to say, “I do not consider myself above you. I acknowledge your power over me. We stand together.”

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“I made a mistake” is not the language of sin. Neither is “inappropriate.” Or “regrettable.”

Weiner, of course, is not evangelical. His Jewish tradition certainly does not lay the same weight on public confession. But the evangelical ethos of public confession as proof of humility has infiltrated secular America, and calls for open confession are no longer limited to the evangelical subculture.

Compare Weiner’s words with two other politicians who survived scandal. In 2007, U.S. Senator David Vitter was accused of using the services of a Washington escort service.

He instantly confessed wrongdoing, even though he did not say he had sex with a prostitute, before the scandal hit the headlines.

“This,” he said, “was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible.” (“I’m stunned that someone would be apologizing for this already,” the lawyer for the alleged “D.C. Madam” remarked.)

Both the speed and the words worked for Vitter. He won his re-election bid last year and still holds his Senate seat.

Weiner, by contrast, delayed his admission of fault for too long.

Still, some initial lying and avoidance can be overcome by the language of confession. After all, it took Bill Clinton nearly nine months to move from “I did not have sex with that woman” to “I have sinned.”

But once he arrived at the point of religious confession, he did it up right, with language like I have repented. I have done wrong. I ask that God give me a clean heart. I ask for your prayers.

Clinton drew on his evangelical background for that language, but it played to secular America with just as much power. It is humbling language, language which admits deep brokenness and fault, language which placed Clinton in the position of receiving forgiveness from others, rather than in a position of power.

Weiner did wrong. And then he lied. But what he never said was “I am a sinner.” And for that reason, his confession failed.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Susan Wise Bauer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Opinion • Politics

soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Rep. Weiner should resign. This man lied and abused the publics trust. What gets me, is that when the charges came out, he was arrogant enough to think he could out-smart and out-wit not just the media, but the public as well. He is a smart individual, but his smirkiness up to the end, and the way he chided the media did him in. He would not have come clean had Breitbart not had him red-handed in the pics!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Big George in Big D

      You are correct! The worse thing here is how the liberal press attacked Andrew Breitbart FOR TELLING THE TRUTH!!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Truthmonitor

      Yes, except the Breitbart part. Breitbart's only 'successful' outing was the one dealing with Weiner. He fabricated all the others. He's still a low-down dog and a nut case.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      When it comes right down to it, does the American public REALLY NEED to know about his pictures, his marriage, or private relationships?

      No. We don't. Outing him serves no purpose but to CREATE scandal. His private relationships are between him, his wife and whatever other people are involved.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Domokun

      His lies, coupled with arrogance (stories are coming out now about how he doesn't really put the work in, but rather takes credit for the work of others) creates the impression that he is simply a jerk and the wrong guy to be in this important office. He's shown himself to be a real dick.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jill

      Did you call for David Vitter or John Ensign to resign because they lost the public's trust?

      Didn't think so.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  2. ModernMan

    Weiner should resign and hide in shame. I expect much more from my government officials. The lying and the idiotic acts are something I would expect from a teenage boy, not a grown man. The day we start accepting this crap, regardless of his confession, we are headed for disaster. He can't be trusted and he is a dirtbag. Plain and simple. He's gotta go!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Jill

      I'm sure you called for John Ensign's resignation while he belligerently held onto his seat until the day before the Ethics hearing, right?

      June 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  3. GSA

    WOW, everyone gets so up in arms over their political affiliation in the US. Dems. or Reps. it doesn't really matter either way. Both sides are filled with lying crooks. When you vote you're just picking the best of the worst so to speak and not really the best person for the job as it should be. Just stop voting, it won't make a difference either way no matter how you try to convince yourself that is does.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Frogist

      @GSA: I voted yesterday in our primaries. And I have to say I don't share the same resigned sentiment you have. I guess I think we have to be optimists about the system. Not participating is simply giving up and letting someone else decide for you. And like the bumper stickers say, at least now I get to complain.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • pingpaul

      GSA, we are seeing the results of not voting.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey -GSA...

      I basically am in agreement with -Frogist here. For us in the U.S., to 'not' participate (which certainly is a decision people are welcome to make), is IMO a way of living by default.

      Voting is one of our many valued 'rights' that i believe should be taken seriously with time and sincere research.

      Yes, I'm aware, that is just totally my -opinion- on the matter.

      And, yes, I do also share in the frustrations of even doing research, and hoping to pick 'one's' best candidate, we can still get it wrong.

      Doesn't mean we still shouldn't give it a try.

      Peace brother...

      June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Not voting is leaving the decision to 1) those who don't realize how badly it works and 2) those who do realize how badly it works and manipulate it.
      Not the groups I want left making the entire choice.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  4. Engineer of Sorts

    A sin takes on a new and real terror when there seems a chance that it is going to be found out.
    – "The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg" , Mark Twain

    June 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • pingpaul

      Yet the religious among us know that the Omnipotent Person already knows. My rabbi suggests that he will have to find a way to atone. What could that atonement be?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Jill

      pingpaul, if your Rabbi actually said that, he's an idiot and I'd find a new Synagogue. For transgressions against G-d, the day of Atonement atones, but for transgressions by one human being against another, the Day of Atonement does not atone until they have made peace with one another." That's all it takes - to ask forgiveness. He's done that. Now do the rest of us Jews a favor and quit misrepresenting what Judaism teaches, mkay?

      June 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  5. william fitzwater

    Every none is so ready to throw stones at this man. We all have hidden truths we would like to sequester away. His lies yes lies were part of a defense mechanism. In fact we all lie. Just as Clinton did this is part of a self justification to protect another's feeling in this case his wifes. Is it silly is it wrong yes. Is it forgivable yes in due time. This man has lost our trust & with good reason because he was in a position of authority caught making a stupid mistake. However every one lies to protect some part of themselves. So I cannot condemn him . It will be part of the political theatre a distraction that the Dems would so like to forget but will have to live with. Lastly he needs to face his wife and ask her for fugitiveness as well.
    Yet I think how many people would lie in a milli second if their personal life was unravelling . He did the same using bravado and evasion until the truth had to come out. Lieing to Wolf Blitzer may not be a federal offence but it will not sit well with his own causes. Lastly to the real villion the whistle blower yes you have the right to go through garbage can of people's live but your own actions will also be watch and hopefuly your standards will applied to your own conduct as well or lack of...

    June 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jim

      If the real villian is the whistleblower, you must hate the news ....

      June 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • JohnR


      June 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Reality

    Best Weiner Joke Contest: Winner gets a free grill with a year's supply of "weiners":

    To date: not ranked yet:

    "I guess this is what happens when Bill Clinton presides at your wedding." -Sara Benincasa

    "Remember when the only people who saw a politician's pe-nis were ho-okers and interns?" -Jason Mustian

    "Maybe Weiner and his wife have an open ge-nital-tweeting marriage." -Mileskahn

    June 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      It was just a photo of his "junior senator".

      June 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  7. LouAz

    " public confession was first practiced in revival meetings,. . . " NO, public confession has been forced by torture since the beginning of our organized "christian" religion. It is an old old old practice to maintain the status quo.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • ModernMan

      Shut up. Stop trying to derail the article into some stupid religion debate. Moron.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @ModernMan: So what you're saying is you didn't read the article...

      June 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  8. Nonimus

    This article starts off interesting and then fails.

    Weiner failed because he tried to hide his actions then got caught and only then admitted the error. Personally, I think the words he used were fine. He fully admits wrong doing, responsibility, bad judgement, etc. The use of a evangelical Christian term is, at best, irrelevant and, at worst, manipulating, especially since he's not Christian.

    He probably would have been fine if he'd have said mea culpa from the beginning. When will politicians learn that, they seem so capable of spinning everything else to their advantage, why so slow with this? That's what I thought this article would be about.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Free

      Well, he lied, but he also tried to throw others under the bus in order to support his lie. Let's not forget that he accused that people were setting him up and had hacked his system. That's a level beyond simply lying, isn't it?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • pingpaul

      If someone was in a public park and did this, they would be prosecuted for indecency. He certainly should not be in a position of public trust.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Perhaps, but if he wasn't accusing a specific person or persons, it's probably still just a lie. If no one is in danger of prosecution or responsibility, in other words. IMO

      He wasn't in a public park though.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Nonimus

      p.s. I'm not really concerned about Weiner's guilt or innocence, I think he's an idiot sure, but my point was about the article claiming that using "Evangelical Christian language" is required for forgiveness in this country. I think that is incorrect.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Nonimus Well, he definitely went over the line with Breitbart. And that is not only intrinsically horrible, but also horrible in that he has thereby elevated Breitbart's status in the eyes of many.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  9. G. Gravelle

    Like the old saying goes, is he sorry for what he did or that he was caught? He ought to have known from the "mistakes" of other celebrities who emailed photos of themselves to others that it was simply a question of time before his became tabloid material.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Jim

      He's sorry he got caught - he would have kept lying, accusing others, and denying if it wasn't clear there was mounting evidence of his guilt. If that's the only time you "come clean", you're not being honest.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  10. SeanNJ

    This woman is clearly an idiot.

    "But what he never said was “I am a sinner.” And for that reason, his confession failed."

    No, you moron. It failed because he did it once, lied about doing it and then got caught doing it a second time. His "confession" equates to "there's no way I can blame a hacker for this a second time around."

    June 8, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • ModernMan


      June 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  11. civiloutside

    If we're really at a point in America where confessions couched in "evangelical code" are automatically accepted, and those not phrased in it are automatically dismissed as insincere, we are in a lot of trouble.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Nonimus

      ... and yes we are in a lot of trouble.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Scott

      I couldn't agree more!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey -civil...

      Well said brother !


      June 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Civil You nailed it!

      June 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Ed

      I have to agree he should be out because of his actions both in sending the text and lying about it, also for trying to use is position in this fashion. However his lack of the word sin does not make his apology any less sincere. I think it was insincere but then I tend to think most politician and celebrity apologize are insincere. But it is unfair to call it insincere just because it did not conform to a religious standard of one sect of christianity.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ph.D. from M.I.T.


      June 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  12. Frogist

    There is a deception to the word 'sin' when it comes to se-xual issues. Religion and the religious have held back honest expressions and discussions of se-xuality for many, many years. Certainly social norms also bear some of that blame but even so, there is a definite overlap. The mere topic of complete and open se-xual honesty is controversial at best within a religious forum. There are so many taboos and prohibitions and shaming that goes on that there is very little, if any room for such a conversation. So when a politician or celebrity or pastor uses the word 'sin' regarding a se-xual indiscretion, it is hard to know whether the public is receiving that as referring to the infidelity or the se-x. Because they are two significantly different things. And more often than not, the public, esp the religious will condemn a person more on the sensationalism of the se-xual act before and above any improper action the person has committed.

    I do think the author is right, as far as I'm concerned, that the lying about the se-x was far more damaging. He had a bit of a flirty fling. It happens. But when he lied about it he then looked like a duplicitous, shady individual. Just come out and say you're a player. We understand.
    I disagree that Vitter's not lying helped soothe the evangelical heart of people solely because he didn't compound his sins with lying. I think it was more a matter of how quickly he put the matter to rest. Weiner's weiner has been in the news for a week now. And the longer it's around the more people take notice. Also it is a picture of a guy's d!ck... Were there pics of Vitter's member? No. A picture is worth a thousand words. And in the TMZ world we live in the more immature and frat-boy a situation appears, that automatically makes it a more lasting story. Can we seriously compare the collective mental impact of a senator with a prost!tute... again and a mysterious pic of some dude's wang inserting itself into our every public airwave via pen!s jokes aplenty involving a guy named "Weiner". There's absolutely no comparison in terms of sensationalism!
    There are obviously other factors at work here. And making it appear that the only reason people are condeming Mr Weiner is because they though his confession wasn't evangelical enough, is IMO a little short-sighted.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Ph.D. from M.I.T.

      Frogist – A thoughtful reply. Thanks.

      June 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  13. Bazoing

    He is a typical "leader". Humans everywhere choose such creeps to be in charge. It does not matter what country of what system they are at least 99.9% people the average person would not really want to know.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  14. Peace2All

    From the Article:

    “All men are created equal,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, and 'evangelicalism' gives this pronouncement an (authoritative 'theological' underpinning)."

    This is a most often used and much debated phrase as to meaning and interpretation that has on occasion has rattled around in my brain from time-to-time.

    Seems to me (IMHO) that 'everyone' is most certainly 'not' (created)...'equal.' All one has to do is look around, and you will find that 'equality' is obviously 'not' (reality), in so many ways.

    I do believe that one of Jefferson's main 'intentions' when he stated this and John Adams' 'intention' when he said in the Massachusetts Consti-tution of 1780:

    "Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness."

    I interpret their intentions (IMHO)... is that everyone should have the same 'equality' with respect to certain rights and freedoms... life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, etc... Not to have our rights infringed upon by anyone.

    I welcome your thoughts to my 'opinion' on this.



    June 8, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      Jefferson meant to write ...
      You are created equal if :
      a. you are white
      b. straight
      c. Episcopalian
      d. own a pe'nis.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Nail on head ! LOL !

      Peace brother...

      June 9, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  15. myweightinwords

    Actually, the whole problem with the entire situation is that we care too flipping much about what is going on in the private lives of our elected officials than we do about the professional life that we elected them too.

    I'm more bothered by him using his position as a means to pick up women than I am THAT he picked up women. And I couldn't care less that he took pictures on his cell phone of him in his boxers.

    We need to get out of other people's pants and pay more attention to the PROBLEMS.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Charge Nurse Betty

      Yup. By this afternoon they will be talking about Paris and Snookie again. This guy is actually involved in doing some good things. I hope he rides out the storm, learns a lesson, and keeps on going.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Admittedly, Betty, I know little about the man, but I didn't elect him either, so I haven't had a need.

      I just think that the American preoccupation with the s-ex lives of people over and above the work that they do is beyond ridiculous.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Frogist

      @myweightinwords: I agree with you that this whole thing is just overblown (no puns intended!). I actually don't have a problem with him using his position to pick up girls. That's what all guys do, all people do. They show off their assets (again no pun) in order to impress the ladies! I genuinely don't see what the big deal is.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • J

      Simply amazing how you choose to frame this issue. I wouldn't want this pervert working for me or next to me – even indirectly. needless to say, I wouldn't want him forming laws I need to live by. And, yes, I feel the same way about Vitter. So when it comes out this pervert was sending x-rated pictures to your 13-year old daughter that is ok (because your 13-year old lied and said she was 18). We are in a very bad way as a country if we all can't agree this pervert needs to go, mostly because of the cover up, pointing the blame at others and acting like a complete moron to anyone who dared to ask a question. This situation also speaks volumes to the many in the lame stream media who not only didn't uncover anything – they didn't bother to look for anything – some didn't even speak of the issue. There is not wonder why so many media organizations are falling by the wayside.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • myweightinwords


      The word "pervert" is a loaded, and in many ways meaningless, word. What you're calling perverted here is not something I see as perverted. Now, admittedly, my view of s-ex, and the body parts involved ins-ex-ual activity is rather skewed from what I'm assuming yours must be. I am not exactly "mainstream" America...then again, for the most part, I find mainstream America isn't exactly mainstream either.

      I'm not a mother, but a 13 year old seeing pictures of a man in his boxers? Not a problem. See worse than that on television every single day. The human body is something we need to stop being so prudish about. We need to realize that just seeing a bre-ast or a pe-nis is not going to scar our children for life. We need to teach them to be responsible, to understand s-ex and predators (and to know the difference). Overprotecting them only makes them vulnerable, IMHO.

      Now, his lying about it? Yes. That's an issue. That makes me more concerned about him actually doing the job he was elected to. It shows a lack of respect for the people who put him in the position, a lack of respect for the job.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Free

      To me, that he has demonstrated a tendency towards poor judgment, impulsive behavior, and a willingness to cover up mistakes should be foremost in the minds of his const.ituents. These are not good traits to have in an ambitious politician linked within the chain of command.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @Frogist, Right? If we could just spend half the attention and time we waste on these "s-ex scandals" on, oh...I don't know...creating jobs? Fixing healthcare? Re-vamping the finance industry? Feeding hungry kids? Treating the medical needs of our vets? Prison reform? Cancer and AIDS research? Getting help to the mentally ill & homeless?

      Now THAT would be something.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Peace2All




      June 8, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @Free, yes, there is an aspect of that...but if it had simply been a matter of him having some text/online "relationship" with someone it would have been nothing. It was the lying about it when someone made it a thing that blew it up and gives me pause with regard to his ability to do the job well.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Frogist

      @Free: That is true to some extent. But that's not really an accurate depiction of the facts. This country has a very puritanical view about se-x. Any hint that the people we put in the public eye is in anyway a se-xual creature polarizes any discussion we have about them. I absolutely understand him lying to protect what was a personal matter that protruded outwards to the world. I doubt there are many who would be faced by a se-x scandal as embarrassing as this and simply come clean about it. Even Vitter showed some duplicity hiding behind his words and not confessing outright to his actions. Having said that, I really wish he had been upfront about it because while it would have cost him in the eyes of the puritanical Js of the world, it would have simply not been as much of an issue and might have put into perspective how particularly harmless his actions were.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Free

      May I also add that his behavior speaks to a certain level of selfishness? He continued to do it even after he was married knowing how much it would hurt his wife, and he likely tried to cover it all up not only to keep his job and marriage secure, but also his ability to continue posting in such a manner.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Free

      Should we just as.sume that he wouldn't have behaved similarly had he been caught doing something else, like pilfering from the State coffers, or trading favors?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      @Free, that presumes something about his relationship with his wife that we are not, and should not be, party to.

      Not everyone defines marriage as this man and this woman, never to look at, think about, have a relationship with anyone else ever.

      I certainly wouldn't. I am not a monogamous creature by nature. Nor do I expect anyone I date to be. I'm actually kind of surprised when I meet a man who is.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Free: Comparing pics of his d!ck, pseudo-infidelity and public shaming over a private matter with an actual crime involving state money is apples to oranges which is why I don't think we should assume his actions, not to mention ours. would or should be the same. People act differently when se-x is involved.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Free: Besides which even if his actions were the same, don't you think stealing money from gov't or taking bribes warrants much greater punishment and condemnation than sending photos of his tallywacker?

      June 8, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Ph.D. from M.I.T.

      myweightinwords – So you are a woman!? I think I am in love. I live in San Diego 😉

      June 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  16. Revenge of the Moderately Angry Kittens from Beyond Hell

    Oh dear, CNN actually found someone who considers herself to be an expert in the analysis of public apologies. The result? A lame article on a lame subject.

    Susan Wise Bauer is the anti-thesis on an existentialist; she has sought out and embraced meaninglessness, and found one of its dullest corners to make her own.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Faux Paws

      Feel better now ?

      June 8, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Normon

      Release the hounds!!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  17. Marie Kidman


    June 8, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  18. LinCA

    So the guy failed in his confession because he didn't follow dogma of some other religion than his own?

    "Weiner, of course, is not evangelical. His Jewish tradition certainly does not lay the same weight on public confession. But the evangelical ethos of public confession as proof of humility has infiltrated secular America, and calls for open confession are no longer limited to the evangelical subculture."

    Either Susan Wise Bauer is full of shit, or if she's correct, American society is totally fucked.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • ScottK

      Im pretty sure it's the former.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Jill

      Hear, Hear, LinCA!

      June 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Ph.D. from M.I.T.

      Wow! How did you get that past the censor? Oh – and I am afraid it might be both.

      June 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Ph.D. from M.I.T.
      Inserting opening and closing html tags will allow you to break up a forbidden word. For example:
      Typing "sh<b></b>it" will print as "shit"

      June 11, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  19. Peace2All

    From the Article:

    "Consider the words he used at the Tuesday press conference at which he admitted to carrying on inappropriate online relationships with several women: I have made terrible (mistakes). I panicked. Hugely regrettable (mistake). Inappropriate conversations. Terrible judgment."

    Consider the words he did not speak: I sinned.

    All believers were fallen. All were forgiven by grace alone.

    American evangelicalism — which moved, in the 20th century, from the sanctuary to the airwaves — has always been an intensely democratic movement. The complete equality of all mankind in the sight of God is one of its most compelling doctrines; and that egalitarianism is a doctrine which transfers seamlessly into American public life.

    “All men are created equal,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, and evangelicalism gives this pronouncement an authoritative theological underpinning.

    When a politician is caught abusing his power, the evangelical language of sin provides him with a perfect opportunity to say, “I do not consider myself above you. I acknowledge your power over me. We stand together.”


    Apparently, according to the author of this article, and I guess to some evangelicals, it seems is that the only way that is acceptable for an 'evangelical' when someone makes a mistake is for them to utter the words..."I have (sinned)"

    I thought that the 'etymology' or at least one translation I heard was the word 'sin' literally means to "miss the mark" which comes from the middle ages when archers missed the mark when they missed their target. Translates into...'mistake.'

    Weiner, has admitted to making "terrible mistakes" etc...

    Do, we really need for people to say the word "sin" to let them off of the hook...? I am terribly sorry... I made a huge mistake... please forgive me, are just not enough for our apparently evangelical religious culture...?



    June 8, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • LinCA

      Hi Peace2All. My thoughts exactly.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Frogist

      @Peace2All: I think she was trying to discuss language and its impact, more than religion to some extent. Yes, certainly 'sin' is a word loaded with shame and regret and ultimate judgment from on high. So to some it is the most dam-ning word and therefore the one that symbolizes contrition best. The problem is that the word 'sin' also connotes far more, including religious overtones, false sincerity, and misrepresentation of what he is confessing to. And that simply is inappropriate for the situation. The fact that some people might want to look at his confession as insufficient because there were no overtly religious references is kind of scary. (I'm not sure there are many who do look at it that way.) Religion does not have dominance over every aspect of our lives and it absolutely should not be the thing we all kowtow to when we have done something inappropriate.
      It benefits religious people to feel that way too I think. If all a person has to say to appear sincere is "I have sinned" or make a religious reference, how can one truly judge whether they are sincere or not? Better to look at the genuine nature of the person's appearance, mannerisms and voice than to worry about the words he used.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Peace2All


      So...from reading your response to mine, i'm getting that you are in 'agreement' with what I said...? And... you added on a bit to my post...?

      I guess what I'm asking, because as I read your post, you seem to be in 'agreement' but... I just wanted to make sure, as it seems that you basically re-stated what I posted in a different way... yes/no...?


      June 8, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      Hey Peace,
      Alright ! I sinned already ! And will do so here. 😈


      June 8, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Bucky Ball

      Ahhhh.... my wonderfully crazy friend ! How u b...?

      That was pretty cute. So, no 'sin' accusation from me 😀

      Peace brother...

      June 8, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Free

      So, are the evangelicals saying that they are willing to overlook anything as long as the subject in question can properly be rendered as a modern-day Prodigal Son? How many times would you give somebody a second chance before realizing that they can't change their basic tendency to screw up?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Frogist

      LOL @ Peace2all: Yes, we are in agreement. Just thought I should add some detail about language etc

      June 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Peace2All


      LOL... ! Good to know. It was just my ADHD, and OCD kickin' in that's all ! 😀


      June 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  20. RubenM

    Let the Weener be. Who cares about the photo, I don't. Men are horn dogs, it's not a secret. A hot 21 yr old took interest in him and he got carried away. No shame in that other than being caught. Some Republicans go "snorkeling" on each other for fun, sick too and quite gay.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Mike Sterling

      The "snorkeling" incident was by a Dem. Thanks for trying to twist the truth though.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.