As our friend Robert Stacy McCain knows, I vigorously dissented from the media horde’s dogged pursuit of Rep. Anthony Weiner. His online flirtations with women, no matter how tawdry and titillating, are simply not a matter for public consumption, I think. Regrettably, though, L’affaire Weiner is now a bona fide political matter — and it threatens to seriously undermine the Democratic Party, and especially House and Senate Democrats.
Indeed, the fear amongst an increasing number of congressional Dems is that Weiner will become the face and image of their party, legislatively (though not presidentially) in the 2012 election: loud, brash, arrogant, clueless, selfish, self-absorbed, and sexually deviant.
For this reason, as Stacy notes, serious-minded Dems, such as Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VAa) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA), are now urging Weiner to resign. In their view, the New York Democrat has become politically toxic and damaging to their party.
They should know. Schwartz heads up candidate recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Kaine is running for governor of Virginia. And, come November 2012, they don’t want Weiner to be the lingering image in voters’ minds.
The problem is that political parties ain’t what they used to be. Campaign finance “reform” laws have weakened the parties and pushed money and fundraising onto independent, outside groups. Thus, pols such as Weiner are mostly political free agents who are beholden to no one but themselves and their independent campaign committees.
Maybe the Dems still can pressure Weiner to resign; we’ll see. But I suspect that if the scrappy and angry New Yorker really doesn’t want to leave office, he ain’t gonna leave office.
Of course, it used to be, as Spock said, that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Unfortunately for congressional Democrats, that’s now a quaint and old-fashioned notion.