Opinion: Weinergate: Should Anthony Weiner resign?
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Nancy Pelosi may have called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Anthony Weiner to determine whether ‘any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred,’ but among many in the public forum, the congressman’s already been found guilty. He lied, he’s immoral, and he’s not who we want representing the American people.
That’s Jeff Shapiro’s take, a reader who waged a provocative debate in the comments section of Jon Healey’s latest post on Weinergate:
When you or I screw up this bad, there are CONSEQUENCES, but when a liberal member of congress does it, it’s just ‘Well, bless his horny little heart, a week of shame ought to put him back in his place.’ What’s forgotten here is that he got into this situation because he HAD no shame in the first place.
Also calling for his resignation:
Given that Weiner had more than just his shirt off, it’s ‘hard to see how he can possibly ride this out.’ If he has ‘a shred of personal honor,’ he won’t even try, says the New York Post in an editorial. After his disgraceful behavior, Weiner is ‘fit only for cable-TV comedy punchlines,’ and ‘he needs to quit,’ now.
Weiner’s indiscretions involved a massive breach of decorum; how can anyone in public life tweet a picture of his own crotch without thinking it might get out? Wanting voters to move past that is just too much to ask.
Reince Priebus, the chief political spokesman for the Republican party, said Tuesday morning that Weiner’s ‘actions and deception are unacceptable’ and that the Democrats’ call for an investigation was insufficient. ‘Either Leader Pelosi and DNC Chair [Debbie] Wasserman Schultz believe members of Congress are held to a different set of standards or they believe these actions demand his resignation,’ Priebus said.
A week ago, Weiner could have addressed the media by admitting to the inappropriate social-networking behavior, apologizing to his wife and his supporters, and promising to learn his lesson and end all such contacts in the future. He would have looked foolish, immature, and perhaps even somewhat predatory and creepy. But the story would have ended in hours, and remained as nothing more than a political punchline. The national media would happily have turned their attention elsewhere, with any further disclosures disarmed by a full admission. Instead, Weiner lied. He lied all week. He allowed his associates to attack the media for asking questions about a story that clearly did not add up. Weiner even allowed his staff to call the police on a well-known TV reporter from his city simply for wanting to ask Weiner more questions. In the end, Weiner still looks immature, foolish, creepy -- and now he looks like a liar as well.
Already, a debate has arisen over whether this kind of behavior should be disqualifying in a politician, and whether Weiner can survive the scandal. On some level, I suppose that the moral, cultural, and sociological elements of this affair are worth thinking through and writing about. But there’s a tendency among bloggers, maybe among everybody, to over-analyze and over-intellectualize scandals such as this one that has the pernicious effect of obscuring what I think is a very basic point: Weiner had so little regard for his office, his constituents, and his duty as a member of Congress that he apparently thought nothing of tweeting pictures of his genitals to random women. Does the analysis really need to go any further than that?
What the congressman did was monumentally dumb, as he is the first to admit. He lied about having tweeted the original underwear photo to a 21-year-old student, again and again, on national television. But let’s review what Weiner didn’t do. He didn’t, if he can now be believed, have an affair with any of the women he flirted with online. He didn’t send sexually explicit messages to underage House pages. He didn’t solicit sex in an airport men’s room. He didn’t pay high-priced call girls. He didn’t show up in the phone records of a D.C. madam. He didn’t carry on with the wife of his top congressional aide. He didn’t have a love child with his campaign videographer, or, for that matter, a member of his household staff. He didn’t disappear from government service with a tale about hiking the Appalachian Trail. He didn’t put his gay lover on the state payroll. He didn’t have sex with an intern who delivered the pizza. He didn’t have an affair with a House staffer while leading the impeachment drive against the president who had sex with the intern.
-- Alexandra Le Tellier