The Tragedy of Anthony Weiner
New York Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted today that he lied about his alleged nefarious activity on his Twitter account. His indiscretions have both personal and political ramifications that he should have foreseen.
Anthony Weiner came clean today. After ten days of obfuscation and denials, he stood in front of a gaggle of reporters and shared that he had been involved in six different on-line relationships. Some of them were started before he was married, but some were continued after he met his current wife, who is an aide to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Weiner’s clandestine on-line life became exposed when an image of him in his underwear was leaked to the press. Since then, a number of other risque images have become public.
Can Weiner remain in office? As of his press conference, he has maintained that his position in Congress should be decided by the voters of his district. So he has decided not to resign, but to let the political chips fall where they may. He maintains that he broke no laws, though he could not state definitively any of the recipients of his amateur photography were minors. Weiner may have to survive an ethics investigation initiated by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Democratic Party in the House hopes to regain the majority during the 2012 election. Having Weiner run for his seat in that election may bring up questions of hypocricy and double standards, so they may have to jettison him as their candidate.
Weiner’s constituents lean toward the liberal, Democratic side, but Republican feelings have been insurgent in his Brooklyn district. Can the Democrats afford to let him run for his seat in 2012, or should they replace him with a challenger in the primaries, knowing that they might have to go up against a rising Republican star in their own backyard? Right now, his sexual pecadilloes have become too much of a liability for them, and his mentor, Sen. Charles Shumer of New York won’t be able to save him no matter how much sympathy the voters may have for someone who exhibits such a lapse in judgment.
Many of his colleagues have fallen before him for less. And some have survived. After an affair that led to his impeachment as president, Bill Clinton went on to finish his term in office and now operates as one of the most popular politicians in the Democratic Party today. Weiner might deserve to be commended for coming forward, but cynics will say he was forced to do so by circumstance. One thing is certain: bad judgment is a bipartisan weakness. Nevertheless, we might be able to empathize with his human frailties, but as an elected leader in the federal legislature, voters should not be asked to enable his behavior.
Image by George Cassutto
Used with permission