Now that the post-mortem on the whole Anthony Weiner sexting affair has begun -- the focus of political punditry is what does he do next and how can he get there. Lay low, work on his marriage, get help is the conventional wisdom -- all true if not trite -- but there also is a larger cause and opportunity for a teachable moment here.
Politicians have survived or recovered from equally bad or worse transgressions, so if past is prologue, there is no reason to believe that the rise and fall of Anthony Weiner can't have a third act of redemption.
But what makes his transgression different from the others are the pictures. Tales and transcripts of transgressions lose their shock value and ability to induce moral indignation over time. Yes we know what Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Barney Frank and a host of others did -- but there aren't visual reminders of the sordid details.
What took Anthony Weiner down weren't the lies or the attempted cover-up -- (but will they ever learn?) -- it was the pictures -- these humiliating images are all too easy to conjure up. They evoke a visceral reaction. And the images will vividly bring back the whole embarrassing episode whenever he tries to resurrect his career.
So let this serve as a lesson to the hundreds of millions of social media users:
- There is no Internet privacy.
- There should be no expectation of Internet privacy.
- And if you think there ever will be Internet privacy -- you're fooling yourself.
The casual and careless way people bare themselves...pun intended...online...can come back to haunt you...personally and professionally.
Anthony Weiner initially denied "with certitude" that he sent the pictures. And no one knows with certitude what the future holds for him. But we can say with certitude that given the online habits of the current generation -- there will be a future president, govenor, senator, congressman, CEO, etc...who will be reminded of the Anthony Weiner episode regretting some of the careless decisions they made and wishing they had learned a lesson from history.
Gregory Giangrande is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Dow Jones.He writes a weekly column for the New York Post offering career advice.