Our political Quote of the Day comes from The National Journal Daily’s Jim O’Sullivan on how Rep. Anthony Weiner and former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards have hurt their political party:
Even hapless Republicans — or ones unconcerned with preserving a hold on the House that seemed to be slipping a week ago or taking over a Senate that seems even more reachable today — could get plenty of mileage off these two Democrats. On Tuesday morning, the National Republican Congressional Committee circulated names of House Democrats whom it said had accepted campaign contributions from Weiner, along with questions about whether the members planned to return them, a standard method for ensuring the political damage spreads.
“If it drags out and there’s other shoes that drop, and he doesn’t quit and then there’s a fight about whether he leaves or not, that could be more damaging,” said a former House Democratic leadership aide. “I think the next few days will tell a lot about what’s going to happen.”
“There’s differences of opinion on yesterday, in terms of whether he can survive this or not. Because he was certainly contrite and apologetic. But if there are other things out there, who knows?”
Instead of hauling their baggage off to cable-television purgatory or Las Vegas, both Weiner and Edwards have opted to retain their hold on the spotlight and drain their share of momentum from the party. Weiner’s colleagues have publicly proved to be more offended than sympathetic, following Pelosi’s call for an ethics probe.
That Weiner has been something like the antithesis of a stolid, deferential team player — preening consistently for the Fourth Estate, openly ignoring governors testifying before Congress by reading newspapers during committee testimony — will not help him with any of the various and overlapping games he now has to play to save his seat.
Diminished support among colleagues will only reinforce the throw-the-bum-out dynamic blooming in Brooklyn and Queens — and, possibly, Albany, where Democratic lawmakers must decide which New York City House seat to eliminate in redistricting.
The best that Democrats can hope: Republicans’ bomb-tossing capability will be limited because both parties have shown themselves splendidly nimble at jumping into sex scandals.
“They don’t live in glass houses, either,” Griffin said. “They’ll use it as long as they can about the party for the moment; but they know it has diminishing returns, but they’re exposed in the same way, almost the identical same way.”
The American media has often been described as attention deficit and that may not be accurate. What is true is that some stories become the rage and they can start to drown out others. It’s difficult for real issue stories to hold the stage when a good, hot, high-concept story comes along that people can immediately relate to and and have a guilty pleasure learning more about. A sex scandal involving a politico blasts other stores off the front page or reduces their news hole and dominates broadcast news, cable and talk radio.
That means less attention to the Democrats making their case on other issues — a critical taks given the bad numbers on the economy.
As I’ve predicted elsewhere: I suspect Weiner is on borrowed time and if he is not, the Dems will pay some kind of a price for his remaining on the stage.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.