The Anthony Weiner apology tour is not going well. Two days after the weepy press conference at which Weiner copped to swapping inappropriate online messages with multiple women, the chorus of Democrats criticizing him continues to grow. “I wish there was some way I can defend him, but I can’t,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday. Former DNC chair Tim Kaine, who’s running for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia, urged Weiner to resign, declaring that “public lying about something like this is unforgivable.” In a radio interview with a Little Rock station, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor agreed a departure would be “a good thing.” On Wednesday afternoon, as a graphic picture purported to be of Weiner ricocheted around the Internet, another colleague cut bait with the embattled New Yorker. “In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign,” Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, who heads recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Politico.
The paucity of people jumping to Weiner’s defense is telling. The six-term Congressman’s media stardom has come at a price. To some colleagues, Weiner’s fondness for making headlines has inhibited his ability to make policy, and he’s not always in sync with the caucus. Those frustrations bubbled to the surface amid the frenzy of Monday’s surreal press conference. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi quickly called for an Ethics Committee investigation–a long, painful process that, as John Ensign knows well, has a way of cracking the resolve of a politician determined to weather a scandal.
To no one’s surprise, Republicans are happily nudging Weiner toward the cliff. “Do we really need an ethics investigation to determine whether this guy’s a creep or not?” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said at a Wednesday breakfast with reporters. The National Republican Congressional Committee has called on 16 House Democrats to return the campaign donations Weiner funneled their way; at least two, Betty Sutton of Ohio and Tim Walz of Minnesota, have said they’ll send the cash to a charity.
So far Weiner has withstood the pressure to exit stage left. But he may have no choice. The Empire State, whose population has climbed more slowly than other parts of the U.S., is set to lose two congressional seats in redistricting, including one in New York City. Choosing which district to axe was a tricky matter for the state legislators charged with redrawing the congressional map, since the Big Apple is packed with veteran Democrats. As the Washington Post explains, Weiner’s online assignations has made his 9th District seat the likely victim–whether or not he tries to hang on.