2011-06-15 / Features

Even Obama Nudge Doesn’t Budge Weiner From His Seat

BY JOHN TOSCANO


The 47-year-old congressman made no move to quit, even though there were damning new pictures revealed earlier in the week. The 47-year-old congressman made no move to quit, even though there were damning new pictures revealed earlier in the week. Despite President Barack Obama’s advice to Congressmember Anthony Weiner that if he was in the beleaguered lawmaker’s shoes he would resign, Weiner continued to hold out against top Democrats and many others who have asked him to quit Congress because of his revealed sexting problems.

“I can tell you that if it was me, I would resign,” the president answered to TV coanchor Ann Curry when she asked the president what he would do if he was in Weiner’s position.

But Weiner refused to budge from his standfast position, repeating he wouldn’t make a move until he discussed his calamitous problem with his pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, who was expected to be returning yesterday from a diplomatic mission to Africa with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In addition to the president’s first public mention of Weiner’s tawdry behavior, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi continued her furious offensive against Weiner, demanding he resign. But Weiner told her he is considering taking a leave of absence, but still refusing to quit.

The latest colleague asking him to resign was Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan.)

But the 47-year-old congressman made no move to quit, even though there were damning new pictures revealed earlier in the week which showed Weiner taking pictures of himself in the nude in the House gymnasium.

Those photos make it pretty certain that Weiner was way out-of-bounds and beyond the previous admissions of sexting similar photos to a number of women during the past three years. The gym photos appear like a clear violation of the House’s rules of behavior, calling for tough penalties.

Later on June 13, Weiner was granted a twoweek leave of absence. At the same time, House Democrats threatened to take away Weiner’s Energy and Commerce Committee appointment.

Besides Maloney calling on Weiner to resign, Pelosi was joined by two party officials in adding pressure on Weiner. They were Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the Democratic National Committee chairperson and Congressmember Steve Israel (D–L.I.), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

While the Democrats have been pushing for an Ethics Committee investigation of Weiner’s abhorrent conduct over the Internet, which could surely bring stern reprimands, their truly realistic goal is to get him to resign because his continued presence is an embarrassment and makes him an easy target for Republicans to point to whenever they must answer Democrats’ questions about their activities in Washington.

Looking further ahead, Weiner could hurt the Democrats’ efforts to raise campaign funds for the 2012 elections. Pelosi and others have said they felt they had a good chance to recapture control of Congress next year because of the GOP’s proposals to radically change Medicare. This was reinforced when a Democrat recently won a Republican seat in Upstate New York, campaigning hard on the Medicare issue.

Republicans have not been as strident or pushy in demanding Weiner’s resignation, but they want him out too because they feel they can undo the damage done by losing the upstate seat by capturing Weiner’s seat in a special election.

It is easier to pull an upset in a special election because all the bad publicity generated by Weiner’s antics could hurt the Democratic candidate, and turnouts are lower, which also erodes the strength of the Democrats’ voter registration edge.

But whichever candidate Queens Democrats settle upon, you can be sure Party Leader Joseph Crowley will get a maximum effort behind him or her. As for the Republicans, the likely candidate would be Bob Turner, the Breezy Point upstart who lost by only 22 points in last year’s election against Weiner and is wealthy enough to mount a solid campaign in the special election.

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