Let me just come right out and say it: Anthony Weiner is done.
(Yes, I was going to write “cooked,” but I talked myself out of it. This is a serious topic about an absurd man. I’ve got to hold off on the puns as long as I can.)
Weiner might not be forced to resign his seat. New York has kept some patently absurd and corrupt people in Congress for a very long time. It would be a poignant image from the decline of a great Republic to capture a photo of Charlie Rangel napping through Weiner’s tearful resignation speech.
The Democrats are the party that gave Charlie Rangel a standing ovation after his slap on the wrist for flagrant, sickening corruption. They aren’t likely to turn on a married man who sent a lewd photo to a college girl, if indeed Weiner turns out to be the one who sent that package.
Dang it, I only made it through two paragraphs without a pun. I’m sorry, folks. I tried.
At any rate, as long as Weiner looks electable, no one in the Democrat Party will pressure him to resign that seat. His problem is that he’s become ridiculous. His role as a front-line attack dog for the Democrats’ ugly class warfare tactics is over. From now on, he’s just a blowhard who will have to put up with audiences bursting into uncontrollable fits of laughter at the mention of his name.
He didn’t help matters with the false accusations about mysterious “hackers” he hastily deployed in the early hours of the breaking scandal. For one thing, as Lachlan Markay at the Washington Examiner points out, Weiner used to take cyber security very seriously. Now he’s just tossing accusations of major security violations around as flimsy distractions to play for time. He actually made jokes about being “hacked” to show how cool he was, and lower the temperature of the emerging scandal. If his concern for cyber security was so obviously manufactured and insincere, why should he be taken seriously about anything, ever again?
Also, the “hacker” story made a lot of liberals look extremely foolish over the last few days, as they took it seriously and worked themselves up into quivering towers of outrage. Now that Weiner’s story has mutated, and it seems clear an authorized user of Weiner’s accounts sent the scandalous image, they look utterly ridiculous. It is one thing to become a clown, quite another to stick red noses and floppy shoes on so many of your loyal defenders.
Weiner’s behavior since the story broke has become a separate story, which could no longer be easily defused by bringing forward a contrite staffer who admits to using Weiner’s accounts to send the image. He’s become a hilarious cartoon figure, racing around Washington and barking that he wants to “get back to work” and “won’t become distracted.” He’s melted down into vein-popping rage at reporters who dare to point out that he won’t answer even the simplest of questions about the affair, such as whether the infamous photo is an authentic image of Weiner himself.
By doing this, Weiner makes it impossible for friendly media to ignore the story or spin it away, as many of them clearly wish to do. At this point, telling people not to think about Weinergate is like telling them not to think about a platypus. As soon as the command is issued, a giant platypus begins crashing through the imagination of the listener. (To clarify, that’s what happens when you tell people not to think about a platypus. When you tell them not to think about Weinergate, an entirely different image is conjured.)
If the Weinergate photo was sent by a renegade staffer, Weiner should have begun his response by making the exact nature of the situation clear, and quickly producing the culprit. (Are we supposed to believe his political operation wouldn’t be able to identify the miscreant in short order?)
This would have involved admitting that he doesn’t personally author all of his Tweets, but that’s a very minor embarrassment compared to what has ensued. Weiner might have endured a day or two of razzing, which would have been rapidly devoured by the howling vuvuzelas of Big Media stories about the dangers of Congressmen allowing staffers access to their social media accounts. Many others in Congress would probably have admitted to doing the same thing, and perhaps committed themselves to handling their social media interactions on a more personal basis in the future. We’d already be talking about something else.
If Weiner did send the scandalous photo… well, that would explain why he’s willing to make himself look like a caricature of a sleazy politician, on his way to a nervous breakdown as he tries to cover up a devastating scandal. Unless he answers some straight questions and produces the true architect of this “prank,” he will make it increasingly difficult for even the most charitable observer to entertain any other explanation.