Anthony Weiner’s Survival Will Take More Than An Apology
Filed by KOSU News in Politics.
June 6, 2011
If Rep. Anthony Weiner, the New York congressman who on Monday admitted that he lied when he denied sending lewd photos to and “sexting” with six women over the last three years says he’s not resigning.
Maybe he can survive. But events are largely out of his hands now as they have been ever since the scandal broke over the Memorial Day weekend.
Here are some reasons why he could get past this and some reasons why he might not.
Let’s start with the reasons he could hang on.
First, though deeply wounded, Weiner has long ties with voters in his district, now serving in his seventh term.
It’s a solidly Democratic district which includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn. Weiner won his 2012 re-election with 61 percent of the vote during a wave election in which Republicans won large.
So he could have significant erosion in his support and theoretically still win an election.
Also, we’re talking New York here. New Yorkers are probably still less easily shocked than people in many other parts of the nation. So he’s got that going for him.
Second, while it’s more typical for lawmakers to resign or be forced out after a sex scandal erupts, there are instances when lawmakers have survived scandals.
Gerry Studds of Massachusetts had a scandal that was indisputably worse than Weiner’s, at least based on what we know so far about the New York congressman’s actions.
Studds had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old congressional page that became public in 1983, an arguably less-tolerant time than now.
But Studds toughed it out and survived, only leaving Congress in 1996 when he retired.
Weiner apparently intends, at least as of now to endure the humiliation and try to lose himself in his job.
Third, it’s possible Weiner could get enough House Democrats to rally around him to survive. His fellow Democrats could decide that he has been contrite enough and has done the party enough service over the years, going after Republicans with hammer and tongs, that he deserves a second chance.
Granted, that may be the trickiest part of his immediate hopes to survive since his fellow Democrats aren’t exactly in the happiest mood right now, in the House minority as they are and hoping to work their way back into the majority.
Which leads us directly to the first reason why he may not survive. House Democrats sense that the Republican majority may be vulnerable because of their controversial proposal to overhaul Medicare.
Weiner could distract from Democratic efforts to keep Republicans on the defensive.
For Weiner, the first hint of how quickly his hopes to remain in Congress may come apart, came from Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi who asked for a House Ethics Committee investigation. She is sending him a message. He is not bigger that the House Democratic Conference. Her statement:
“I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation; for Anthony’s wife, Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents.
“I am calling for an Ethics Committee investigation to determine whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred.”
Weiner and his fellow Democrats will have to deal with non-stop video of his interviews in which he lied about not sending the photos and texts. Again, not good for Democrats trying to win the messaging war with Republicans.
Meanwhile, Republicans aren’t going to sit still and allow Weiner to try and rehabilitate himself.
As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said after Weiner’s Monday afternoon news conference, Democrats are going to be on the “Weiner ticket” if he remains in the House. Republicans will make sure of that.
Republicans will likely note how quickly the married Chris Lee, a New York Republican, quit his House seat after a photo of a shirtless Lee that he sent to a woman showed up on the Gawker web site.
Secondly, there are more pictures of Weiner. Andrew Breitbart, the conservative web publisher, has said he possesses a downright sordid photo of Weiner that he hasn’t released because he doesn’t want to hurt Weiner’s family. The congressman admits such a photo or photos could exist.
Any such photo or photos in digital form won’t long stay off the web. Once it winds up there for global consumption, it would likely be impossible for Weiner to remain in office.
Third, it would be extraordinary if Weiner doesn’t get a primary challenger. There’s still a lot of time between now and the 2012 primary election.
But New York has a lot of ambitious local politicians who can imagine themselves as a member of the state’s congressional delegation.
So, again, it would be surprising if Weiner didn’t have to contend with a significant challenge. And that could end his career even if he’s able to soldier on over the next year.
[Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]