I have a simple question. Why did Representative Anthony Weiner have to resign? I can find no real reason why he should have, except for one: unwarranted pressure.
I don't know much about lying about war (reality: I don't feel like getting into that in this post), but is his lack of good judgement a good enough reason to resign? I'm not defending his actions by any means. What he did was in poor taste, disgusting, and wrong. However, as far as I can tell, not illegal. I've been keeping up with this case, and I have yet to hear about him sending the pictures to any unwilling recipient or anyone that he knew for sure was under age (I invite you to prove me wrong. It won't be the first time I've had to edit a post for wrong information).
Yes, the man lied. But honestly, stop and think about it. He was a representative that was supported by his constituency, he has a loving wife, and had a bright future in front of him. He had a lot to loose. When the scandal broke out, of course his knee-jerk reaction was to lie and try to make it go away as quickly and as quietly as possible. Again, I'm not defending him here, but I am saying, without condoning or condemning, I understand why he lied.
Now, here's the part that I really respected: he not only fessed up (it was only a matter of time after all), he said he would not resign. Why do I respect that? Most politicians would take the easy route by confessing and then running and hiding. Instead, Weiner admitted that he had done wrong and then chose the hard route by staying and facing his wrongdoings head on. That could have backfired had the people he was representing wanted him to go away, but a majority actually wanted him to continue supporting him (I always like a person who goes with their constituency over the pressure inside the government halls).
If his constituents wanted him to stay, he confessed what he did was wrong, and planned to complete his term, then why did he eventually resign? Duh! The pressure that was put on him! He finally caved! I don't blame him (I'm actually surprised he held out as long as he did), but where was the pressure REALLY coming from? Clear and simple, the news media. For those of you who dislike hyperlinks, most Americans couldn't care less about the Anthony Weiner story, yet it trumped most every other story the news broadcast in terms of coverage. As a whole, people where more concerned about the bad economy than yet ANOTHER politician with a sex scandal. Let's face it people, it's the same song and dance every time, just different players.
So with this massive amount of coverage of Weiner's...okay fill this in yourself (believe it or not, I do make SOME attempts to remain tasteful), is it any wonder that his fellow representatives and even the President called for his resignation? Think of it like this: one day you hear about a series of three murders in Benin. Have you even heard of Benin? I doubt you have. So you don't really care. It's just another news story that may make it's way around the water cooler the next day and that's it. But then the media makes a huge deal out of it. Constant coverage, analysts of all types, and queen bitch Nancy Grace herself causing a huge stink over three murders in a country across the ocean that you've never heard of before. How long do you think it will take until some sort of federal or at least Congressional call to action is brought up? Not long I'm sure. Why? Because suddenly it's all anyone is making you hear about. It's the same thing with Weiner. No one really cared, and after he confessed there really was no more story to cover. The media made it a huge deal, so all the big wigs had to do SOMETHING so that they could further their own careers. If they didn't, it would have spiraled out of control until several people lost their jobs in other scandals or lost elections because of their "indecisiveness" or because they "defended a pervert." Who wants that on their record?
It's too narrow-minded to blame just the media, however. A fair amount of tradition was involved too I'm sure. Just about every time a politician gets caught with his pants down or her skirt up, they resign and then fade as far out of the public view as possible. Weiner decided to not to resign and do the job he was elected to do, bucking tradition. I'm sure this rubbed a few people the wrong way, and I even remember hearing a news cast a few days after his confession saying he should resign just because that's what is expected from him. What wrong with that picture?
What are the ramifications of all this? Unfortunately, there are many, and they are long lasting. First of course is the special election that will be held to fill Weiner's seat. With the thought of a double-dip recession on everyone's mind, I'm sure the tax payers are none too happy with having to pay for another election. Second is that now the news media will see justification in over-reporting on some stories to get a desired result or more stories to report on. This will make it harder for many people to get meaningful news, or at least news they care about or affects them (Perspective: Anthony Weiner was a representative from New York. How does that affect any of the people in any of the other 49 states?). Finally, this perpetuates at least one tradition in our government (resigning after a scandal). I have no proof of this one, but it is my personal opinion that there is too much tradition build into our laws and legislative bodies, which is hampering our progress as a nation. All these consequences could have been avoided if coverage stopped shortly after June 6th when Weiner came clean.
To wrap all this up, I want to go back to the original question. Why did Representative Anthony Weiner have to resign? I put forth my argument. It was mostly due to over-coverage and run-of-the-mill political bullcrap. But I'm interested in what you think. Did he really need to resign? Or could he have stayed in office? I'm interested in what you think.
Just for reference, here are some of the more important articles I used to write this article:
Weiner resigns in chaotic final scene (New York Times)
Anthony Weiner announces his resignation from Congress (Yahoo! News)
How Weinergate became a media circus (Yahoo! News)
You read that last paragraph, right? Tell me what you think about all this! Leave a comment or contact me to present your own argument! If you don't feel like presenting your argument or don't really have one, feel free to tell me what's right or wrong with mine.