Now that the episode has climaxed (yes, that's deliberate irony) with the resignation of Representative Weiner, I notice that, while it's mentioned in many articles on the scandal, no one has taken the position that since Weiner didn't actually have sex with any of the women he dry-humped on the Internet, it shouldn't be regarded as a sex scandal at all.
From the earliest days of American democracy, sex scandals have always involved real sex, or at least an attempt to have real sex. Just in my lifetime and offhand, I recall Wilbur Mills fountain-dancing with strippers, Donna Rice and Gary Hart cavorting offshore, Elliot Spitzer cavorting with whores, Larry Craig and his wide stance in the airport men's room, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina going all the way to Argentina to get laid (which, to me, was a gross insult to the women of South Carolina) and the serial canoodling of the godfather of them all, Bill Clinton, a man far better at guiding the nation than he was (and likely is) at keeping his zipper tab in the twelve o'clock position. All of these scandals and numerous others shared one thing in common—a physical exchange of bodily fluids between a horny politician and another person.
Now Weiner has managed to get himself run out of office without actually getting any ass. Talk about your loathsome precedents! The sheer lack of sex in this sex scandal is enough to make any red-blooded American gag.
It's tough to feel sorry for any politician caught doing something dumb without thinking very hard about the consequences of it (i.e., behaving normally) but while sending an underwear-swaddled picture of the leading citizen of one's trousers to another women while married is hardly admirable, it's far less of an offense than having an affair while your wife is battling cancer, and you can do that and still run for President (Gingrich, Edwards) instead of having to consider job offers from Larry Flynt.
The other aspect of the scandal that I can't abide by is the use of the term "Weinergate" to describe it. Can we get off the "gate" thing? It's been nearly forty years since Nixon burgled the Watergate by proxy, and if you don't think attaching the suffix "gate" to any other noun to nickname a scandal has been overused since then, Google the phrase "scandals ending in "gate" and click on the Wikipedia article that pops up. This is the fault of lazy, unoriginal, herd-mentality journalists, which seems to be the majority of them.
"Weinergate" is obviously the funniest of them, but if it's humor we're seeking, there are far more risible options. After mere moments of personal research, this writer was able to come up with Schlonggate, Stiffiegate, Erectiongate, BVDgate, Peckergate. Penisgate, Chubbygate, Bulgegate, Rodgate, Wanggate, Dickgate and Throbbergate. Feel free to contribute your own.
The problem with suffixing all scandals with "gate" is that it makes them all seem equally important, and if you don't think it's an irritating shorthand as well, try it with your own personal problems. Forgot-to-file-state-income-taxgate. Spouse-maxes-out-credit-cardgate. Kid-calls-from-jailgate. New-neighbor-an-intimidating-Neanderthal-gate. Dog-poops-on-ruggate. Toilet-backs-up-while-showing-housegate. If you attempted to discipline your family into referring to their history of problems by attaching "gate' to the end of each one, you'd soon find yourself with no family, or involuntarily committed, or both.
We can give up "gate," like Anthony Weiner better give up Twitter. It's not possible to predict future scandals, but we can resolve to refer to them as "scandals." Or "personal disasters." Or "hilarious stupidities." Doesn't "Weiner Whips Out Weiner, Gets Wiped Out of Congress" describe the scandal better than "Weinergate," which sounds more like a confining device for your dachshunds?
Of course it does. And spell-check likes it better, too.