The scandal that Rep. Anthony Weiner has brought upon himself and his fellow Democrats is offering late night comedians plenty of material and offering his Democratic colleagues plenty to worry about.
Rep. Anthony Weiner’s insistence on not backing down is already forcing some of his fellow Democrats to call for his resignation. No major Democratic leaders have joined the chorus, so far. But the development, or lack thereof, of that chorus may tell us quite a bit about how Democrats are feeling about how this will affect all of them in the 2012 election.
Scandals, even cyberspace sex scandals, are nothing new to Washington, and nothing new to either party. Frankly, our elected leaders are usually very prepared to give the appropriate reaction and make the appropriate moves to distance themselves from the offender.
However, if the offender isn’t willing to go away, the questions and the association with the offender eventually becomes more and more uncomfortable for colleagues. And while we are still sixteen months away from the 2012 election, it’s fairly clear that many of Rep. Weiner’s colleagues are already uncomfortable, and it’s likely to only get worse.
Rep. Weiner will become more radioactive the longer he decides to stay in Congress. Eventually, his colleagues will either have to choose to publicly ostracize him, or to say that it’s none of their business. Either move puts his colleagues in a campaign Catch 22 next year.
For the Democrats who move to ostracize Rep. Weiner, the next logical question will be to ask if they feel any ethics violation occurred and if an investigation should be initiated. If those who call for his resignation don’t follow that up with support for an investigation, then they will still look as if they still somehow support him.
For the Democrats that choose to stay silent on the issue, they will eventually be pressed for an opinion. If they do not make a clear repudiation of his actions, their tie to their disgraced colleague will be even tighter.
For the Democrats in safe districts, the fear of this scandal hurting them directly shouldn’t be as severe. That’s why they call it a safe district. However, if they choose to not support an investigation, they will become part of a larger group of “supporters by inaction” that will add more fuel to those negative ads against other Democrats in not-so-safe districts.
In a nutshell, this can become very messy for Democrats and it hits just as the Democratic Party was hoping to build some momentum to the 2012 elections.
There may be some people who don’t believe this scandal can really impact entire party. It can be hard to believe that the ignorant and shameful indiscretions of one Congressman can sully such a large group. Maybe some think that since no real illegal sex act occurred, most voters will simply lose interest and are not so prudish as to be that concerned over a sex scandal.
But while this scandal started with sex, it’s now more about lying, blatant lying on television. Rep. Weiner granted interviews to all of the major networks when this issue began and lied to every one of them.
Supporting Rep. Weiner won’t be about ignoring a sex scandal; it will be about supporting a very public liar. That is why the ads will be so damaging.
All of this can be solved and cleared up with one simple resignation. The chorus calling for that resignation may only have a few members now, but with the potential ramifications of this scandal never going away, that chorus is bound to grow.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.