Democrat Anthony Weiner had to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives — but not because President Obama and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill believed he should, or hypocritical Republicans were calling for his head. Weiner deserved to lose his congressional seat because he lied to cover up a tawdry online relationship with six women over the past several years.
No, he didn’t have an affair with any of the women — the once well-known bachelor has been married for just over a year and he and his wife are expecting their first child — but he showed extremely poor judgment in sending sexually explicit photographs of himself via Twitter.
And judgment certainly is a singularly important aspect of any member of Congress’ tenure. Indeed, the fact that the 46-year-old congressman was sending the pictures to much younger women (one just 17 years old and another 22) suggests a flaw in his character that needs to be addressed. He could not do that and still adequately represent his constituents.
Some in Congress have been able to live two lives, but with public officials now under constant scrutiny, what with the 24/7 news cycles and the Internet, taxpayers are less inclined to give them a pass for their misdeeds.
In announcing his resignation last week, Weiner, one of the most liberal members of the House and a harsh critic of the Republicans, apologized for the “personal mistakes and the embarrassment I have caused.” He said the apology was meant for his neighbors, his constituents and “particularly for my wife, Huma.”
That’s all well and good, but the subtext of the resignation story is that he lied when confronted with one of the pictures he had sent via Twitter. While he dodged questions about whether the underwear-clad crotch was his, he insisted that someone had hacked into his account and sent the sexually suggestive photo.
He stuck to that story — but the more he talked about the situation, the more unbelievable his explanations got.
Then, on June 6, as more texts and suggestive photos of the congressman surfaced, he held a news conference to admit to everything, most especially lying.
The reaction from Democratic leaders was quick and uncompromising — compared with the way the GOP has handled the numerous scandals involving its members — and left little doubt that Rep. Anthony Weiner had become toxic.
Republican hypocrisy was palpable against the backdrop of David Vitter, Larry Craig and even Newt Gingrich.
When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called for an Ethics Committee hearing, and then, when President Obama said he would resign if it were him, Weiner could no longer stem the tide of opposition. His attempt to appease his critics by taking a leave of absence to get treatment for an undisclosed condition did not impress anyone.
Reacting to his resignation, Minority Leader Pelosi summed up the scandal perfectly:
“Congressman Weiner exercised poor judgment in his actions and poor judgment in his reactions to the revelations. Today, he made the right judgment in resigning.”
But, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., offered what should be the defining principle of every elected official:
“Tell the truth. If you can’t tell the truth, leave immediately.”
With Weiner gone, the country can now get back to focusing on the serious issues of the day, such as the economy.