If Anthony Weiner knew how to do the right and honorable thing, he wouldn’t have gotten into this mess. But since he doesn’t know how to tell himself no, he should listen to the leaders of his party: The New York Democrat should resign from the U.S. House to work on his problems and allow Washington and his district to focus on something other than explicit and lewd photographs.
Since Mr. Weiner admitted sending inappropriate photos and conducting sex-charged conversations with several women on the Internet and by phone, new photos have appeared almost daily. The celebrity news Web site TMZ released photos last weekend that it claimed were taken in the congressional gym. They show the congressman clad in nothing but a towel, grabbing his crotch.
Delaware police have talked with a 17-year-old girl with whom Mr. Weiner had conversed online. The House Ethics Committee will conduct its own — undoubtedly embarrassing — investigation of the congressman’s extracurricular activities as well.
People may disagree with Mr. Weiner’s liberal positions on issues, but few would argue that he hasn’t been an effective representative of his New York City district. Encouraged by polls that suggest most voters in his district don’t think he should quit, Mr. Weiner said over the weekend he would seek a leave of absence from the House to get treatment for an unspecified addiction.
“I will not resign” is what politicians say while they assess the negative reaction. As expected, Republicans have called for his scalp — though some hope he sticks around, so they can continue to bash him and Democratic leaders who did not immediately insist he quit.
It’s possible Mr. Weiner could win re-election next year. Louisiana voters returned Republican David Vitter to the Senate in 2010 after he was identified as a client of a Washington prostitution service.
Mr. Weiner’s aspirations to be mayor of New York City someday have put great pressure on him to try to wait out this scandal. But political survival should not be his priority.
Instead, he should set aside his ego to ask what is best for his psychological and emotional health, for his wife and marriage, and for his district, the nation, the House, and the Democratic Party — probably in that order.
Mr. Weiner needs to get his life in order, and then, if he wishes, to seek the forgiveness of New York voters. At age 46, he has plenty of time. His resignation will allow him — and Congress — to focus on what is really important.