Peggy Noonan leads with:
Saturday, June 11, 2011 :::
Of course he should resign—or, better, and as a statement, the House should remove him. I speak as a conservative who wishes to conserve. If I were speaking as a Republican I'd say, "By all means keep him, let him taint all your efforts."Expulsion seems a bit much. Charlie Rangel did worse, at least by the Republic, the House, and his constituents, and he was merely censured.
I'm less quick to insist on resignation for non-criminal wrongdoing than, I gather, most people are. I thought Chris Lee was too quick to resign, and (not having really followed anything related to any investigation in Delaware) I think Weiner is around the point where he probably would resign if he had class or his wife wanted him to pretend to have class, but where a decision to stay on would not demonstrate a lack of class that would be exceptional in a Congressman, or even in a human being. I don't think it's because I'm less inclined than most people to think that this sort of scandal says something relevant about Weiner's character, as a lot of people who oppose his resignation have said out loud that this is irrelevant, and I do think the scandal is sufficiently significant that people who voted to his last time ought to reconsider next time around. I think I'm more inclined to think that he's been elected to a two-year term and should serve it unless there is some extraordinary circumstance. This particular circumstance is, while not exactly ordinary, insufficiently extraordinary.
After Ed Koch lost his bid for reelection as mayor of New York City, he is supposed to have said something like, "the people have spoken, and now they must be punished." This is closer to the line of thought that leads me to think Weiner should be allowed to keep his seat. Suppose he did resign and a special election were held. Would the people who voted against Weiner last time be satisfied with the results? I doubt many of them would be. The next Congressman from his district would be chosen mostly by those who chose the incumbent. Are those who chose the incumbent embarrassed? Perhaps they are (though I think I saw a poll saying most of his constituents don't think he should resign). They certainly ought to be. If they are, they can live with it for another year and a half. If I thought the personality traits and policy positions that Mr. Weiner displayed for them to vote on were completely unaligned with his recent behavior that I could believe that those voters were very unlikely to make the same mistake again, I might want to give them a do-over. But this isn't a humble, avuncular family man who abruptly shot a hobo on live television. They elected a cocky, combative, alpha-male type who clearly thinks very highly of himself despite his complete lack of practical skills. He has, more or less, played to type, if a bit more sensationally than one might reasonably have expected. His erstwhile supporters, given another go, would no doubt elect John Edwards in a landslide. I'd just as soon have them hide their faces in shame for a while and - though this is probably too optimistic - learn a lesson.
So, maybe I'm backtracking a little bit on the paean to hypocrisy I issued the other day - not in that I'm suggesting that a non-hypocrite crapweasel is any better than a crapweasel with professed standards, just in that I think that the former should be understood to represent his constituents while the latter may have constituents who deserve better. I guess this could warrant more thought, but if I really want a PhD, I'll be spending most of that thought elsewhere.
UPDATE: See also Mark Steyn on some actor's referring to being a member of Congress as "high-functioning", with my earlier aside on a lack of practical skills in mind. Some Congressmen (especially, I would imagine, in swing districts, such as not-New York City) work very hard, but it's not necessarily a job where one would have to, and it's certainly not the top job that should pop into your head when you hear "works hard". Beyond that, consider: how many people do you know who work hard under intense pressure? And how many of them, to your knowledge, have responded to this pressure by transmitting electronic images of their genitalia to perfect strangers?
Were your answers "more than zero" and "zero", respectively? I swear I'm not psychic.
::: posted by Steven at 10:58 PM