With Monday’s Anthony Weiner news, I’m seeing a lot of people make statements along the lines of this from John Fugelsang, which I don’t think is quite right:
Anthony Weiner would still be in The House if he’d just had an actual affair w/a mistress like a normal congressman.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) August 29, 2016
The thing is, Weiner’s congressional career wasn’t exactly brought down by the sexting scandal. It was brought down by the sexting scandal and by Weiner’s status as a terrible co-worker.
When Weiner became embroiled in scandal in 2011, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’d like him to resign, as did Steve Israel, the congressman who ran the campaign committee charged with electing Democrats to the House.
Weiner’s lack of intraparty support in the face of the scandal was what made his position untenable. And he lacked support within the House Democratic conference for a reason.
“Offstage, those who worked alongside him say, Mr. Weiner was a lawmaker with little patience for making laws and a single-minded focus on generating attention so he could run for mayor of New York,” the New York Times reported in 2013, when Weiner was seeking his comeback in the New York mayor’s race.
In one instance, Weiner threatened to hold up the Affordable Care Act in committee if he was not allowed to offer an amendment to replace it with a single-payer plan. This would have burnished Weiner’s left-wing credentials. But it would not have led to the enactment of single payer — it would have forced Democratic colleagues to take another politically difficult vote. And if the amendment had passed, it would have led to the ACA being defeated in Congress.
Weiner gave up his demand to offer the amendment, but the Times reported he got a concession in exchange: A prime speaking slot on the night of passage, and the vote-tally sheet, which he held up on the cover of the Daily News.
In a way, Weiner was his party’s Ted Cruz: He made a lot of noise about ideas like single-payer health care that turned on his party’s ideological base, but he had few actual legislative accomplishments, and he made the hard work of enacting his party’s achievable goals more difficult. This annoyed his colleagues, and it’s no surprise that when a scandal had his career teetering over a ledge, they chose to push him.
So, one lesson to take from Weinergate is not to text pictures of your junk to strangers, repeatedly, even after you have promised not to do so anymore. But another lesson to take is that there are consequences to being a bad co-worker.
This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.
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