My intent had been to stay away from the Anthony Weiner affair. In general, I don’t write about sex scandals, let alone one in which you can hardly utter a sentence without tripping over one euphamism or another. Admittedly, I do find those as amusing as the next person, but I don’t write them well and I’d likely find myself inadvertantly saying something offensive or just plain weird without even knowing what I said.
That being said,in the post I’ve linked to at the top of the page, fellow blogger Eric Reeves got me thinking about the question of whether Weiner should resign. Reeves makes a number of very good points. In fact, I agree wholeheartedly with his post. Weiner has been a fierce progressive voice, the kind that we need more of in Congress. He broke no laws, unlike a number of Republicans who did not resign. He broke trust with his wife, and through his lies about his activities, he broke trust with the public. These are serious breaches, and they need to be dealt with. I do not however, believe that they are, in and of themselves, politically fatal. Furthermore, Weiner does not have a record of claiming that his sexual behavior causes him to be possessed of a superior morality, nor does he have a record of trying to legislate the morality of the intimate behavior of consenting adults, so there are no grounds for accusing him of hypocrisy in those areas. It doesn’t make me want to defend his actions, but in the grand scheme of things, there are far worse things that he could have done.
My fellow blogger’s core argument is that Weiner’s constituents are more than capable of deciding whether or not he stays in office and that it’s inappropriate for Pelosi, Obama and the rest of the Democratic leadership to call for his resignation. His points make perfect sense and are perfectly defensible, and I disagree with them.
The basis of my disagreement is that, in my opinion, it makes more political sense for the Democratic leadership to “force” Weiner to resign than it does for them to support him. It’s something of a cold position, but when something like this happens, it’s important for someone to keep their eyes on the politics. That is the job of party leaders. It is their responsibility to their party, and if we assume that a Democratic leader truly believes the Democratic agenda is what’s best for the country, that responsibility to the party becomes a responsibility to the country. (This perspective goes for Republicans as well, by the way.)
So why is it a good political move to force Weiner out?
1) Weiner is going to be re-districted out of his seat. The census dictates that New York will lose two house seats. One seat will be upstate (possibly a Republican seat) and the other will downstate (almost definitely a Democratic seat). If Weiner could run in his district and win, it could serve as a vindication. He will not have that opportunity. That means that the Democrats could defend Weiner without the benefit of that vindication.
2) There is a realchance for the Democrats to retake Congress. Defending Weiner distracts from that effort.
3) His value is limited. As strong a voice as he is, Weiner has little power under GOP house rules.
4) The Democratic support for his resignation blunts any potential GOP attack based on this affair. Not only that, it puts Democrats in a strong position to deter such an attack.
So there’s my reasoning. I think the Democratic leadership took the right position in forcing Weiner out, and I think Weiner did the right thing in resigning. Now, let’s get this off the front page, and move on. And don’t be surprised to see Weiner reemerge in the not too distant future.