Thursday marked exactly three years since little Caylee Anthony was last seen alive. It also marked day 20 of her mother Casey Anthony’s murder trial. A day earlier, on Wednesday (day 19), the prosecution rested its case, and as I predicted, the judge then denied a defense motion to dismiss the charges. So, on Thursday, the defense called its first witnesses, several crime scene investigators and a couple of FBI forensic examiners. Their testimony mostly involved the absence of certain types of evidence collected/examined during their investigative work, for example, the absence of blood stains on clothing and vehicle upholstery and the absence of DNA on the duct tape found with Caylee’s body. That sort of testimony didn’t seem very meaningful, though, given that there are plenty of ways in which a person can die without dispersing blood, and given that any bodily fluids coming out of the nose or mouth may not have made it to any external surfaces if the nose and mouth were tightly taped up (the prosecution should’ve made that point but didn’t), and given that the duct tape was exposed to the elements for months before it was found. One FBI examiner did, however, say that she did not observe the same sticker residue that a previous witness had observed on the duct tape.
The most controversial testimony of the day came when Casey’s lead attorney Jose Baez asked one of the FBI examiners whether she had tried to determine Caylee’s paternity. Baez was trying to bolster the incest claims that he made in his opening statement by suggesting to jurors that the FBI thought Casey’s brother Lee Anthony could’ve been Caylee’s father. The prosecution adamantly objected to this line of questioning, and as I’ve explained here previously, it’s utterly irrelevant whether Casey was ever sexually abused because it has no reasonably-arguable causal connection to whatever she did or didn’t do surrounding Caylee’s death. Nevertheless, the witness was allowed to testify that she had in fact compared Caylee’s DNA to a number of other DNA samples collected in the course of the investigation, including a sample from Lee, and that none of those samples could have come from Caylee’s father. Stay tuned for more defense witnesses, including a convicted kidnapper that the defense claims was in contact with Casey’s father around the time of Caylee’s death/disappearance and…maybe…Casey herself. And as the defense continues to talk about the absence of certain evidence, I’d like to hear the prosecution ask the defense witnesses about the absence of indications of drowning, such as traces of pool chemicals. While the defense would just continue to argue then that Caylee’s body was never in Casey’s car (hence, the absence of pool chemicals there), I think jurors have already concluded that it was there (jurors weren’t taking notes during Thursday’s sometimes-complicated DNA testimony), so the absence of drowning indications would cast further doubt on the defense’s drowning theory (as if it’s not already doubtful enough that an innocent murder defendant would wait in jail for three years to finally divulge that the death was an accident).
Also on Thursday, Congressman Weiner finally resigned. Maybe he read my last post. Doubt it — during his resignation speech, after apologizing to his constituents and family, he said that he was resigning “most importantly, so that I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.” (In fairness, he had earlier said he was resigning so both he and his wife could heal, but he later repeated — due to some heckling — the line in which he excluded the wife and focused on…surprise…himself.) He also said that his sexting and lying were “mistakes,” as if they were accidents. Already, we’re hearing a chorus of politicians and pundits saying that the price Weiner paid — losing his political office — was too high for wrongs committed in his “personal life,” and even more troubling, a majority of New York voters polled reportedly said they didn’t think he needed to resign. So, once again, here are the reasons why personal and political behavior are inexorably linked in cases like this: 1) if his wife can’t trust him, then his constituents can’t trust him, 2) if his wife can’t trust him, then his legislative colleagues can’t trust him, 3) if anyone knows a secret about him that could put his career and/or marriage at risk, then he’s susceptible to blackmail, which puts the country also at risk, 4) if he’s willing to put his career, family, and country at risk for his own gain/pleasure, then he’s probably malignantly narcissistic and can’t be expected to put his constituents’ interests ahead of his own, and 5) if he’s willing to put his career, family, and country at risk for such little gain/pleasure, with such high likelihood of being discovered, then his intelligence and/or judgment isn’t good enough to be involved in solving the country’s problems. The foregoing render a politician unpredictable and ineffective and therefore unfit to hold public office.
So is it a “tale of two Anthonys”? I actually do see a similarity between the Anthonys — Casey and Weiner — though in varying degrees. People who engage in repetitive antisocial behaviors tend to have a profound self-focus at the cores of their personalities. Sometimes, their self-concepts are grandiose (e.g. “I’m more important than others” or “I’ve accomplished more than others” — we see these a lot in politicians), and other times, they’re more defensive (e.g. “No one else is going to deprive me” or “No one else is going to control me” — we see these a lot in abuse survivors). Emanating from their narcissistic cores, there then tends to be a sense of entitlement to take what they want from others (selectively rationalized through the distorted prisms of their grandiose or defensive self-concepts). Importantly though, none of that impairs their abilities to distinguish right from wrong or legal from illegal, nor does it force them to commit any particular act. So, while it may help us to understand their antisocial attitudes, it does absolutely nothing to diminish their personal responsibility for their antisocial behaviors.
And while I’m on the subject of unfit politicians, the mother of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s out-of-wedlock son recently gave an interview in which she said that the now-teenage son, upon learning his father’s identity, said it was “cool.” With Father’s Day just around the corner, I feel terrible for this kid. Of course it seems “cool” to a teenage boy — at first — that his father’s a big “action hero,” but eventually, the kid’s going to think, “Hey, wait a minute, my father was willing to ignore me and deny me and let me go without a father for my entire life rather than take responsibility for my existence and parenting. He’s no hero; he’s a coward.” The kid will be right. Schwarzenegger is a coward, and to the extent that the kid’s mother played along for years, depriving the kid of a father (a crappy father, yes, but at least a father), whether she did it to protect Schwarzenegger and/or to rake in some cash from him, she’s not much better.