The unfortunately named Representative Anthony Weiner is reportedly considering resignation, after claiming at the end of last week that he wouldn’t resign following his admission of his online extra-marital dalliances.
It’s sort of not surprising – it’s been a rough week for Weiner, though a rough week entirely of his own making. At a press conference last week, the married New York representative admitted that it was in fact him in an image of his crotch that he accidentally tweeted, having meant to send it in a private message to a woman in Seattle with whom he’d had an ongoing online flirtation. The infamous grey underwear shot was, it appears, just the beginning: Weiner’s admission has released a torrent of naughty images that he sent to women – the most recent is one of Weiner clad in a naught but a House of Reps gym towel, cupping his nethers, courtesy of TMZ – and sexually explicit online chats with some of those women. It’s also released a similar flood of calls for Weiner to resign, even as the seven-term liberal representative takes a leave of absence to seek treatment to figure out how to keep himself from exposing himself to women on the internet.
- Dems want him out. The Democrats, already reeling from a Republican resurgence in the midterm elections, are calling for Weiner to get out. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was just one of many Democratic leaders making it clear to Weiner that he has few allies in Congress: “Well, at the end of the day, a member of Congress makes their own decision, and that’s certainly going to be up to Anthony Weiner,” she told Sunday’s Meet the Press. “But we have made it clear that he needs to resign. He needs to focus on getting his own personal issues in order, focus on his family and do the right thing by his constituents.” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who has requested that the House Ethics Committee investigate whether Weiner used House resources to conduct his flirtations, urged Weiner to seek “help without the pressures of being a member of Congress”, Daniel Politti reported at Slate.com, describing her comments as “part of a move that seemed destined to make it clear the party does not support his efforts to remain in office.”
- Constituents are mixed. Last week, a majority of voters in Weiner’s district wanted him to stay in office, despite his admission and resulting scandal. According to a poll from the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and television station NY1, 56 percent of those polled wanted Weiner to remain; 73 percent of those polled saw his actions as “unethical but not illegal”. However, a significant number of his Queens and Brooklyn district aren’t willing to forgive and forget – The Washington Post spoke with some who claimed that the worst part about this whole scandal is that Weiner initially lied. And some are actively agitating for him to step down: Protesters gathered outside Weiner’s home on Sunday, chanting “Resign now, rehab later.”
- “Weiner, don’t go.” Peter Beinart, writing at The Daily Beast, wants Weiner to stay: “He flirted with women in a crude, dorky and easily traceable way. And he lied about it, which is what married men usually do in such circumstances. Who cares? As far as we know, he violated no law or congressional ethics rule. There’s been no allegation of sexual harassment. It’s entirely possible that his constituents would reelect him if given the chance. So why is he being hounded from office?” The party line appears to be that Democrats want him out to because his scandal is distracting from more important efforts to expose the Republicans’ attempts to cut Medicare. Of course, Beinart points out, if Dems and pundits really want to focus on Medicare, then they should stop talking about Weiner and start talking about Medicare. What’s really going on here is much more primal: “We live in a kick-them-while-they’re-down culture. We love to see the powerful humiliated because it proves that they were no better than us to begin with.”
- Blaming the liberals. Bob Turner, Weiner’s Republican challenger in 2010, knows what to blame in this scandal and in others. In a piece for National Review’s The Corner blog, he wrote, “[Scandals] are a symptom, representing something more dangerous: liberalism. Many liberals in Congress feed off of power. They feel entitled to dictate society’s rules, yet selectively exempt themselves from the enforcement. They live in a parallel universe where their own laws do not apply. I’m more disgusted by a congressman’s unpaid parking tickets than I am by his sexual fetishes.” How liberalism explains scandals in the conservative quarter, he doesn’t really touch, but he does state that Weiner “knows what to do”. Presumably that’s step down.