Representative Anthony Weiner of New York is asking for a leave of absence from Congress and he is entering rehab to deal with his problem. But with the leadership of his own party calling for him to resign it is unlikely that he will ever be able to effectively represent his district. It is time for him to step down.
What was he thinking each time he sent obscene text messages and explicit pictures to women around the country? Did it not occur to him that it was wrong? He must have known that his actions were inappropriate. He must have realized that he was risking everything if he was caught.
By his own admission, if one believes him, he was "sexting" for three years. He was hooking up with women through Facebook and Twitter. These were women he did not know. What made him think no one would talk? What does this say about his judgment? And why did he lie? Did he really believe he could get away with his claim that his Twitter account was hacked? And what does he think of the adverse impact these revelations have brought on the women he communicated with?
Perhaps the person he hurt the most was his wife of less than a year, Huma Abedin, who has been a close associate of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's for more than a decade. Didn't Weiner think of the severe pain he would inflict on his wife, the woman he says he loves, if his exploits were discovered? What kind of love is this? It is very likely that he knew she might be pregnant when he was sending his last texts.
Representative Weiner is an outspoken, brash and energetic spokesperson for progressive causes. Because of his tenure and tenacity he could get things done. While his arrogance could rub his colleagues the wrong way, he was very popular and highly respected by residents in his home district. But now he has embarrassed many of those who have always supported him.
Some commentators have said he did not commit a crime (that we know of) and that he has consistently represented his district and his party well. They point to other elected officials from both parties who have made similar mistakes and remained in office. But shouldn't we always demand that our representatives be exemplars of American Democracy?
In recent weeks Representative Anthony Weiner has become a major issue. Republicans, until recently reeling from criticism of their Medicare proposal, have focused their attention on Weiner's bad behavior. When Congress returns to work Monday, following its recess, Weiner's actions will be a big distraction. That is one reason why House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House Democratic campaign committee chair Steve Israel have all called for Representative Weiner to resign.
Representative Weiner can no longer effectively serve his district because he has lost the support of his party's leadership. He is now under investigation for his actions. He can no longer be a credible leading voice on important progressive issues. If he chooses to stay in Congress he will have little or no power.
Representative Anthony Weiner says is fully committed to saving his marriage and repairing his relationships with family and friends. And now he will be on a leave of absence so he can get help with his serious problem. These matters will all need his full attention.
Therefore, the right thing for Representative Anthony Weiner to do is resign.