It had been too long – months! – since a fortysomething New York congressman was revealed to have sent a shirtless photo to someone he didn’t know. Step up
, Anthony Weiner. (The photo behind his left shoulder, of Bill Clinton shaking hands with him, is a nice touch.)
What possesses a politician to save, digitize, and spread a sexy photo of himself? We will leave that to Weiner, whose credibility is really hurting now when he claims that the tweeted photo of a very excited man wearing grey underwear was the product of a hacker. (Is it possible that a hacker got access to Weiner’s sexy photo trove and hacked his Twitter account? Sure, like that matters.) And the week of fumbling explanations about that photo are a bigger problem than any of the photos. Voters aren’t puritans. Weiner isn’t accused of abusing power, or even cheating on his wife. He’s flirty with some of his fans. But he spent quite a lot of time claiming he never does stuff like this.
If Weiner isn’t avoiding the Internet today, he might want to read Matt Yglesias’s advice for politicians caught in scandals.
What you need to do to survive infidelity is (a) be an incumbent and (b) don’t quit! David Vitter cheated on his wife with a prostitute. That’s a crime. Bill Clinton cheated on his wife with an intern, and then he lied about it. But they both survived. The key difference between them and Eliot Spitzer is that Spitzer resigned. As I’ve written before the key thing any politician under attack needs to do is get his co-partisans on his side.
It’s pretty clear that Weiner 1) can’t be a credible candidate for mayor of New York and 2) can’t be a credible spear-carrier for criticism of Clarence Thomas. Can he keep his seat (until redistricting)? Sure, if Democrats don’t pile on him. Lucky for Weiner, the House is out right now. Less lucky: New York reporters have countless opportunities to find Democratic members and ask them if they want Weiner to resign.
(Photo: Big Government, like it says on the little blue tab.)