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Posted by on Jun 17, 2011 in Politics | 0 comments

Weiner Resigns: Relief, Sadness and Partisan Reaction (NEWS AND BLOG ROUNDUP)

And so he’s gone (for now). Rep. Anthony Weiner, the New York Congressman, the up and coming talking head, the emerging political personality who told lots of mature jokes about his name, has bowed to the politically inevitable and resigned — allowing the Democratic party to resume getting its message out on other issues such as Social Security and Medicare. He now gives stand up comedians one last fling of “Weiner jokes” (referring to his name and his you-know-what) and has forever turned his name into an adjective that means political self-destruction.

And the reaction? Yours truly was offline the all day Thursday but I was on a trip that entailed 640 miles of driving and during the entire 11 1/2 hours drive I was tuned to XM satellite radio, listening largely to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and that great XM station that offers serious political talk, POTUS. The consensus: Weiner may rise again (politically that is), but for now is gone — saddening those who see a career cut short, causing relief among Democrats, glee among Republicans, and most likely a big smile from conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. Weiner resigned amid heckling from a Howard Stern fan:

Here’s a transcript of his (uncharacteristically) short goodbye.
What comes next for Weiner’s seat? The Wall Street Journal:

Party leaders plan to move swiftly to identify potential successors to Rep. Anthony Weiner as they prepare for a special election.

An aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the governor is expected to declare a special election for either Primary Day, Sept. 13, or Election Day, Nov. 8. The winner would serve the remainder of Mr. Weiner’s term, which ends in January 2013.

Mr. Weiner, who represents a swath of Queens and Brooklyn, announced his resignation on Thursday after previously admitting that he engaged in lewd online exchanges with six women.

He has held the seat since January 1999.

Under the rules of a special election, party leaders will select the nominees, giving political insiders enormous sway over the outcome of the election.

While political observers believe the Democrats will be able to hold onto the seat, Republican officials said they plan to be very competitive. Last year, Robert Turner, the GOP nominee, won about 40% of the vote in a bid to unseat Mr. Weiner.

Forbes’ blog Steven Berglas sees some lessons:

Anthony Weiner is no longer a member of the U.S. Congress, a fact that has little to do with his penchant for disrespecting women. Just look at Bill Clinton, a man infinitely more disrespectful to women than Weiner was, yet able to weather an impeachment trial.

Although I cannot tell you precisely why Clinton received the support he did during Le Affaire Lewinsky, I can tell you that one thing he did right was not shed crocodile tears about getting caught in lies. Weiner, however, lied, cried, then lied again, and in the process made a horrible situation worse. How? Not one of his apologies seemed to be coming from a man with integrity. In fact, every time Weiner proclaimed, “mea culpa,” he drove people who had yet to call for his resignation to realize the time for doing so had drawn nigh.

Since many of you Head Coach readers are, or aspire to be, business leaders, you need to be cognizant of two things: (1) One day you will mess up; maybe even big-time, and, (2) if you apologize in a manner that resembles Anthony Weiner’s exculpations, you’ll be out of a job as swiftly as he was. To help prevent that horrible situation from occurring I present the top 4 reasons why you should never handle a crisis, disaster, or major blunder, with the types of apologies that Anthony Weiner used:

An apology is only egotism wrong side out.

This is an observation made by Oliver Wendell Holmes, and it captures the essence of why, particularly in this age of daily public apologies, saying “I’m sorry” is more likely to exacerbate your problems than ameliorate them.

Lisa Baron, writing in The HUffington Post:

Bill Clinton had an affair, lied about it, and went on to become a two term United States President. New York Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, once known as client number nine is now known as the host of CNN’s In the Arena. Congressman Charlie Rangel was found guilty of ethics violations and continues to serve. Representative Maxine Waters, alleged ethics violator, lingers on the house judiciary committee while patiently awaiting her hearing. Of the aforementioned, not a member of the political party they pledge allegiance to sent out the call for their resignation. Congressman Weiner tweets a picture of his man parts to a porn star and three weeks later he’s out of a job.

Why do some politicians walk free while others walk the plank? Is it sex vs. money that determines if you stay or if you go? Or are the politics of politics at play?

I worked for more than a decade as political campaign secretary who saw and managed a fair share of scandal, the most notorious being at the helm with Ralph Reed during his run for Lt. Governor of Georgia which, as bad timing would have it, coincided with the largest lobbying scandal in modern history. With that in mind, I don’t believe that accidentally pressing ‘send to all’ instead of a direct message to one is an abuse of power. And so often when your hand gets caught in the cookie jar or your penis on y-frog, it’s usually the cover up, not the crime that lands you in hot water. This is what happened here. Weiner handled the mistake poorly and coupled with how well he played with others (which by all accounts was also poorly), created the firestorm that led to his resignation. Congressman Weiner is known for being bullish, arrogant and in one report, ‘abrasive’. One might surmise that he acted as reported because of ego and entitlement. And, trust me, the Capitol Hill environment doesn’t help a man with a pattern of acting in his own best interest.

Reuters’ Front Row Washington blog:

That’s not hot air emanating from the Capitol today, it’s the huge sigh of relief from the Democratic leadership that Congressman Anthony Weiner decided to resign.

And gone with him are the difficult decisions about whether to strip him of committees or think up other pressure tactics to end the weeks-long distraction.

The New Yorker’s Close Read:

It must have seemed like a good idea, once Anthony Weiner had decided to resign, to hold a press conference saying so at a senior-citizens’ center in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn—the same one where he’d declared his candidacy for City Council, back when he had a political career before him. What was left of his staff might have been more sparing with the invitations, though. A minute or so after Weiner called his neighbors “opinionated” and “authentic,” a heckler shouted “pervert!” and much cruder things, too. (“There was at least one non-journalist in there,” John King, of CNN, said, perhaps forgetting the shouts about sexting at Weiner’s last appearance.) Weiner held himself together reasonably well, with some stumbles. After saying that he was leaving “most importantly that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused,” he tried to cut off the jeers by repeating that line; the second time, it came out as “so that I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.” But fair enough; time to heal. He’s paid a price, and there’s no reason to shriek at him now.

It is not quite right to say, though, that Weiner is being forced to resign because of an imprudent tweet or two, or because he’s been caught in some pageant of hypocrisy. He is resigning, first, because he had an entire web of relations that started, in many cases, when women engaged with him as a politician (there’s a rep in @repweiner) and continued with him just engaging, and over-engaging. (Did any woman, after a first radar-raising back-and-forth, wonder about ever corresponding with a politician again? If he’d stayed in office, what parent of a teen-age girl in Queens would encourage her to write to her congressman—something any girl should be able to do, and that can be the beginning of a life in politics?) Second, he lied in an outright way. Third, he accused other people of crimes out of shame at his own actions. Those are the things he did: we’ve also learned how reckless he was—his paycheck and marriage might have been his own to toss on the giant gambling table of Twitter, but he also had responsibilities to constituents, colleagues, staff, and political positions he was identified with. We also saw how ineffective he had become, and as much as one might complain about media obsessions it is not everybody else’s fault that he did—it is his

TIME’s TV critic James Poniewozik asks why Weiner shouldn’t get his own TV shows. Here’s part of his post:

The Anthony Weiner twimmolation saga ended today with all the dignity began with: a heckler ( Benjy Bronk from The Howard Stern Show) shouting his resignation speech down, cable-news anchors saying the word “sexting” repeatedly and Weiner saying he would step down “most importantly, so that I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.”

I’ll leave to my colleagues at TIME’s Swampland and elsewhere to analyze Weiner’s political future, if any. As a TV critic, it was most interesting to me to watch CNN cover the event live, with Wolf Blitzer and John King asking whether Weiner could mount a political comeback, without raising the (maybe more likely) possibility that’s already being floated: that Weiner could end up a pundit on cable TV, perhaps on their own network, CNN.

Why the speculation? (And it is, right now, nothing more than that.) Well, a couple years after he left office in disgrace from a prostitution scandal, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is now Blitzer and King’s co-worker. Whatever the penalties for personal embarrassments in politics, the statute of limitations is shorter in media. More important, the numbers in media just work differently than in politics. To win a seat in Congress or the mayor’s office, you need a plurality of votes. To be a success as a cable-news commentator, it’s fine if a lot of people hate you, as long as a significant, loyal fraction love you enough to watch. And whatever Americans in general think of Weiner, there may be a significant following of progressives who still like his voice and his politics and believe he got a raw deal. That’s a built-in audience!

Of course, not every disgraced politician can automatically go on to a second career in media, or wants to. But there are a couple of factors that may make Weiner a particularly likely candidate.

Go to the link to read the rest.

The Politico’s Ben Smith:

Anthony Weiner’s pained resignation, staged at a senior center in the Brooklyn neighborhood called Gravesend, may have finally burned out the incredible media storm around him.

There was more press here than I’ve seen in 10 years of covering New York political events: There were about 40 cameras, and maybe 100 members of the press, representing everyone from The New York Times, which livestreamed the affair, to the local Midwood Blog, to the liberal site TalkingPointsMemo, the radio character who disrupted the event, and foreign news crews.

Weiner didn’t, literally speaking, have to resign; but as my colleagues explain, he finally felt so isolated and embattled he had little choice. He did have the choice of going quietly with a written statement, but chose not to. He wrote his final statement, with apologies to his wife and brother, himself and it was still structured like a political speech, leading with a paean to the middle class.

That may have signaled that he’s already looking for a comeback; but then Weiner’s whole life has been politica, so a political speech may just have been the way he chose to express himself. It was, in anyway, largely drowned out by the Howard Stern associate who stood up three times to ask obscene questions, which turned into the emotional core of the event and generated sympathy in the room for Weiner, if anything could.

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart sees it as a sad example of a squandered career:

The resignation of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) marks the end of yet another promising political career for a New York public servant. He was smart, brash, acerbic, funny, driven and unafraid to take the fight to his opponents. Weiner’s trajectory was supposed to take him from Capitol Hill to City Hall as mayor of New York City, an arc that began with a mayoral run in 2005. Not anymore.

….Just one more spectacular — and disappointing — fall of a New York politician who squandered abundant political promise.

Here’s a cross section of political weblog reaction. These are excerpts so please go to the link to read posts in their entirety.
Andrew Sullivan:

Weiner didn’t commit adultery, and wasn’t a hypocrite. He was targeted for purely partisan reasons.

Law Professor Jonthan Turley:

I have disagreed with those defending Weiner or opposing his resignation. I could care less about his bizarre fetish with exhibitionist acts. However, he engaged in a pattern of lies that included alleging criminal acts of hacking by others and attacking the media. He is further accused of harassing women with these pictures. I cannot understand the view that a member who showed such utter dishonesty and poor judgment should be forgiven because he is “good for the cause” or a loyal liberal. I agree with the double standard shown in the response of cases like Senator Vitter, but that does not relieve Democrats or liberals of their duty to hold their leaders accountable.

Weiner had two strong legal reasons for resigning. As mentioned in earlier posts, the greatest danger of criminal conduct is his alleged coaching women to lie if contacted by investigators. Yesterday, another woman stepped forward to say that she was pressured to lie by Weiner. Notably, the woman yesterday also said that her efforts to discuss political issues were met by responses from Weiner to get her to engage in sextexting. By resigning Weiner reduces (the admittedly low) chances for a criminal investigation.

Second, Weiner was likely to be investigated for this misconduct and there are risks of claims of false statements as well as the creation of new evidence that could be used against him. This includes possible civil litigation. It also includes possible investigation of Weiner for harassment of women who were contacting him to discuss his work as a congressman. It also includes incidents where Weiner could be charged with using official resources in engaging in this conduct.

By resigning, Weiner shuts down the main threat of investigation that he is facing…

-Michelle Malkin:

Weiner reads brief, 5-minute statement. No questions. But plenty of rowdy, randy heckling from crowd.

“Today I’m announcing my resignation from Congress.” Crowd members cheer. “Yeah! Goodbye pervert!”

Total circus. Hecklers unabated. Weiner, no kidding, paying tribute to his parents and “the values they instilled in” him.

Yowch. Throwing mom and dad under the bus?
Surprised no one heckled “Jackass!”

-Crooks and Liars’ Nichole Belle:

Andrew Breitbart, who helmed this targeted takedown of Weiner, was inconveniently in Minnesota (near where Netroots Nation was being held, go figure) during Weiner’s presser, so rather than usurp the podium as in the past, made sure to call into Fox News Channel to give his view. Can’t forget that it’s all about him, can we?

-Hot Air’s Allahpundit:

He could have released a statement and been done with it but I guess one press-conference fiasco wasn’t enough. I actually felt bad for him watching it — despite him allegedly foisting nob photos on unsuspecting women, despite his shameless, indignant lies afterward about being hacked, despite his callous jokes and personal nastiness to people who pressed him for details, and despite his sleazy demagoging of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” as the real culprit. Even Bill Clinton — Bill Clinton — is supposedly livid. Under the circumstances, the guy could have been spared five minutes to immolate what’s left of his ego without being hooted at. Ah well. For a pol who, until recently, was known for his media savvy, he forgot the first rule of NYC pressers: Make sure there are no Stern people in the room.

Ben Smith notes that parts of this sounded like a campaign speech, which suggests he may already be plotting his next move. I’m sure he is. He’ll be back. Strong. Large.

Fire Andrea Mitchell:

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye! One of the most disgusting, arrogance, obnoxious and vile members of Congress in it’s history is gone (and that was before Weinergate.) All of Anthony Weiner’s lies, attacks of conservative bloggers, Andrew Breitbart, etc came to an epic ending today as Anthony Weiner has officially pulled out of Congress. Instead of just handing in his resignation papers like any normal congressperson would have done when they were in the middle of a huge scandal, Weiner had to whore himself to the media and hold a press conference. The presser turned out to be a disaster for Weiner boy as he was his usual arrogant self and was even heckled during it. Here’s the video of Weiner’s 4 and a half minute press conference. His wife Huma Abedin didn’t even join him for this humiliation!

Bye Bye Pervert (with applause)! Was screamed once Weiner announced he’s pulling out of Congress. Oh and someone should tell this idiot that we are a republic, NOT a democracy. Dumb ass Marxist progressives like Weiner have a hard time grasping this fact.

The Gothamist:

Anthony Weiner withdrew from Congress today, but the sexless Weinergate scandal isn’t quite petered out. Andrew Cuomo still needs to set a special election to replace the randy Representative, police just finished investigating a—wait for it—a suspicious package at Weiner’s DC office (turned out to be nothing) and the Post, clearly sad to have to tuck their dick jokes back in, is letting its readers vote on their best Weiner covers.

The Governor’s office today released a short statement (he’s got other things to focus on than a sext scandal) regrading the 9th District seat now vacated by Weiner: “The Governor will take the appropriate steps to ensure New Yorkers in the 9th district are fairly represented in Congress.”

Meanwhile, Weiner’s former constituents—who must be sick of being asked what they think after 20 days of scrutiny—had mixed emotions to his resignation. “At this point in time, I think he had no choice but to resign,” one told the News. But another told them “I don’t think he should resign. We shouldn’t expect more from politicians than we do of ourselves. He’s human, too. This has nothing to do with the job that he’s doing.”

Josh Marshall:

What stands out to me about all this aren’t Weiner’s juvenile and mortifying ‘offenses,’ but the bizarre and almost inexplicable and unprecedented calls for his resignation. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me that the open and insistent demands for his resignation from the Minority Leader, the Chairman of his party, the head of the House campaign committee and everyone else is simply unprecedented. I do not think I’ve ever seen anything remotely like it. And the same could be said for what was the impending decision to strip him of all committee assignments.

Now, certainly many people have immediately resigned because of arguably similar transgressions. And I’m certain the Republic would not have been shaken if Weiner’d packed it in on day one. But again, it’s the insistence that’s the issue to me.

I get that it’s icky and makes people cringe. But c’mon. I’ve been following congressional scandals for 15 years. And my God in the grand scheme of things this is pretty silly compared to the levels of wrongdoing, thievery and vicious behavior we’ve all seen.

Wake Up America:

Weiner could have saved himself and his wife much humiliation had he resigned the day he issued his confession that the photos and reports were all true and he wasn’t hacked (as he originally lied to the public about) but had indeed sent out the lewd photos himself.

Had he done so there probably still would have been sporadic reports when new information or photos emerged, it would not have been the constant firestorm that the last few weeks of straight Weiner news has been around the Internet and in the media.

-Steve Benen:

I may be in the minority, but I’m still not at all convinced Weiner’s misdeeds warranted a resignation, but I’m at least somewhat hopeful that his departure will encourage the political world to shift its attention back to my weighty issues.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), meanwhile, remains a senator in good standing, despite his lies and habit of hiring hookers. Rumors that he could be heard laughing his ass off after learning of Weiner’s resignation are unconfirmed.

Gawker:

NBC News swung by his office on Capitol Hill and saw Weiner’s staff and interns packing up their stuff, shutting off the lights and locking the doors. Sad. The resignation comes as Democrats scheduled to meet today to try to strip Weiner of his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and generally explore any option to hound him out of office and into his inevitable cable news gig.

Well, that’s that. All week, Weiner’s been squeezed by Democrats and battered by Boehner. As much as he tried to hold on, it looks like things have finally climaxed. Couldn’t take the beating any longer. He’s pulling out. (Sorry, this may be the the last chance to do that. Gotta get it all out.)

Ann Althouse:

Oh, no! What will he do now? Become a stay-at-home dad and write a memoir about it all?

I would love to know what those conversations between Huma and Hillary were like, not that Anthony will ever know what that was. I suppose some clever novelist could write a roman a clef and make up what those 2 women might have said to each other. Did Hillary ever speak directly to Anthony? Did Bill? Did Bill, Hillary, and Huma ever confront Anthony at the same time?

AND: I hope the widdle weiner within is all right. That’s the important thing.

American Thinker:

Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief, as Politico and others are reporting that Anthony Weiner will resign his office. Fox News reports that he has scheduled a news conference for 2 PM today in his NY district.

Although most media and Democrats are emphasizing the sexual component of Weiner’s transgression, his immediate and extended use of lies, and blaming his political opponents as a tactic when caught in misbehavior is the most important aspect of the story, and the feature with the greatest political implication for other Democrats, many of whom initially expressed support for Weiner’s twisted version of reality.

Moe Lane:

For that matter, the kind of commentary and tone that he’s demonstrated in the past means that he richly deserved the slow-motion destruction of his life, career, and personal dreams over the last few weeks. But Weiner’s supposedly got a kid coming, so I will say this: take this opportunity to revisit your life choices, Tony. You can still salvage your family from the wreck. You want to do that.

Because, really, at this point you have nothing else left.

No More Mister Nice Blog:

He’s still clinging to what he had. I understand it, even though it makes me wince. (I think it makes me wince because I understand it.)

And yes, I know that this isn’t an exact analogy, because he’s never been definitively dumped by the voters of his district. But the end was inevitable, and going back to that site makes it seem as if he still can’t completely face that fact.

That was the weakness that got him into this mess, and that’s the weakness he showed today: he’s needy. He did all this online sex stuff not to hurt the public, but because he has seemingly unfulfillable emotional needs. In a nonsexual way, he seemed needy even before this happened — he seemed to need to draw a crowd. I was skeptical about the usefulness of his approach to politics — he never seemed to win votes in Congress or bring fence-sitting Americans around to his way of thinking — but the maliciousness and mean-spiritedness and cultivated ignorance of Republicans puts them on a much, much lower moral plane. All that directly harms voters. I wish the worst thing you could say about Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and Roger Ailes and Karl Rove and the Koch brothers was that they’re emotionally needy. They’d be far less dangerous.

I hope Weiner figures out a way to have a second act. I’ll admit, though, that that’s hard to imagine.

You can follow the latest blog commentary on this story HERE.

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