Updated Saturday 5:12 pm
The most sordid sight of the week was not to be found in Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account. It was located rather on Capitol Hill, in the form of the hideous view we were treated to of Weiner’s fellow Congressional Democrats sheepishly and ignominiously creeping away from him and trying to ease him out of his office.
Because these are many of the same Democrats, you will remember, who ran to Bill Clinton’s side after he engaged in far more insane and disgusting sexual behavior.
Let’s compare. Sorry for the graphic nature of this:
Wiener: Sent inappropriate photos of himself to women he had never met. Ancillary effects include John Stewart having to put other jokes on the backburner while he deals with Weinergate.
Clinton: Engaged in an extramarital affair with an intern half his age, including performing acts such as receiving a blow job from beneath the historic Resolute Desk in the historic Oval Office while talking to a U.S. Congressman. And then he lied to a grand jury about it.
Ancillary effects included the exposure of the president to potential blackmail, the removal of the White House’s focus from important matters – including the hunt for Osama Bin Laden – huge legal fees for Clinton’s aides and Secret Service protectors, and embroiling the country in a yearlong national nightmare.
Gosh, who’s the bigger jerk, please?
Let me be clear. Weiner is clearly a jackass and a psychopath desperately in need of a kick from his wife in the area that was the subject matter of a couple of his tweets, and then marathon sessions of psychotherapy. The former, BTW, is more likely to cure him than the latter.
But how about the hypocrisy among Democrats who treated Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr as as if he were of counsel to Satan and accused Republicans of taking a Cuisinart to the Constitution in their pursuit of impeachment?
Democrats needed Clinton, and they don’t need Weiner. It’s that simple. Clinton was the greatest politician of his generation, a man who could get things done on Capitol Hill. And losing him would have tarnished Democrats and put them in a hole from which it could have taken years to emerge.
This is reflected in what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said at the time of Clinton:
“He’s still doing more for the country and more for our agenda than anyone else.”
“He absolutely, positively never should resign and give the radical right that victory.”
What has she done for Wiener? She immediately referred his case to the Ethics Committee to investigate whether he should be dumped for a technicality – using government equipment to send his tweets – because she knew that not doing so would give Republicans a voluble talking point.
And – I have to assume she green lighted this – she allowed junior Democratic leadership member Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, who heads up candidate recruitment, to call for Weiner to resign.
Several other Democrats have demanded he leave, while the rest are slinking away from him and silently holding their noses.
The White House, to its credit, has stayed out of the mess, although it has its own political reasons for doing so.
Republicans too have their own hypocrisy going. Surprisingly few of them have called for Weiner to leave. I can only think that they must welcome the prospect of Weinergate playing out through Election Day if possible.
But the spectacle of some of the same Democrats who in lock step saved Clinton’s political skin back then now harrumphing in unison while their colleague self-immolates is really a sorrier sight than the photos of the various parts of Anthony Weiner on Twitter.
H/T to a very old acquaintance for the idea on this one.
UPDATE: Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida have now called on Weiner to resign.