Why Dems Turned on Weiner, not Clinton

June 17th, 2011 at 6:00 pm | 11 Comments |

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Christian Science Monitor reports

Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from the House only a day ago, ailment but already, a backlash is building among Democrats who wonder why their party moved so forcefully to shove aside one of its own.

True, Mr. Weiner’s offense was tawdry. Tweeting pictures of your own person to young women is highly questionable behavior for a married politician. There’s no question Weiner did it, because of ample electronic evidence. And he publicly lied about his actions for days.

But didn’t another Democratic politician do much the same thing a few years ago? Yet the party closed ranks around Bill Clinton.

Weiner, they pitched under the bus. Democrats from Barack Obama on down said the New York lawmaker should seek other employment.

That’s the theory, anyway.

“A politician may resign out of embarrassment, as Representative Anthony Weiner did, but that doesn’t justify other politicians from his own party, including the president himself, calling for his resignation,” writes John B. Judis, a senior editor at The New Republic.

Well, that’s one point of view. But we can think of some reasons that Democrats turned on Weiner, and not on a certain philandering president.

Mr. Clinton was powerful. Weiner wasn’t. Is this too obvious? Clinton held a post that used to be called leader of the free world. Weiner was 1/435th of the House. It would have been a huge deal for the Democratic Party to push out a president, especially one as politically adroit as Clinton. It’s much easier to turn on an embarrassing Democrat who is one vote among many.

Politics is brutal. If the above section sounds a little, well, chilly, then perhaps you have not noticed that politics is a profession for the thick-skinned. Professional loyalty goes only so far, and the direction it usually goes is up. There is little tolerance in Washington for misbehavior in the lower ranks. Everyone who has worked in official D.C. for any length of time knows stories about staffers whose jobs vaporized overnight due to some real or imagined indiscretion. Worker bees are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that’s best for the hive. Perhaps Weiner’s fate should be seen in that context.

Clinton had more friends. Through decades in public life, Clinton had acquired a huge network of personal friends and people who owed him favors. An appearance at a fundraiser here, a note to a financial supporter’s mom there, and suddenly you’ve got a support system that partisan institutions don’t provide. Clinton was great at this. By all accounts, Weiner was not as good. That his colleagues said little positive about him in the days following the incident is telling.

Still, some on the left side of the political spectrum are saying that Weiner resigned too quickly. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is one. He argues that the drumbeat of calls for Weiner’s resignation was unprecedented and that Weiner’s offense was silly compared with the thievery and so forth in which the political system abounds.

“[T]hat disconnect – the most insistent and open demands for resignation ever compared to one of the silliest scandals ever – just doesn’t sit right with me,” writes Mr. Marshall in a TPM blog.

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • Houndentenor

    What Clinton did and what Weiner did are completely different.

    But yes, we are comparing people of very different levels of popularity and power.

  • Carney

    Weiner never committed perjury to obstruct a federal civil rights investigation. Weiner had no pattern of exploiting subordinates and retaliating against those who refused him.

  • Watusie

    The right continues to be bamboozled. They are so committed to IOKIYAR that the idea of the other side not adopting the same stance confounds them.

    • Nanotek

      Watusie + 1

      just imagine if Weiner had employed prostitutes while wearing diapers, as Republican Senator Vitter reportedly did and, after confessing, returned to a standing ovation from the Republican senators

      the scope of the double standard is mind-boggling …

  • mlindroo

    > Worker bees are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that’s best for the hive.


    Maybe I’m being a bit jealous, but I can’t feel sorry for Mr.Weiner who seems to have a rather exaggerated view of his own importance! The Dems really didn’t need this unnecessary diversion while the RyanCare and deficit talks are going on.

    As for double standards and unfairness, I guess there might soon be a level playing field as partisan muckrackers in cyberspace figure out the importance of uncovering Reps such as Weiner and Chris Lee. In this day and age, how difficult is it really to a) identify dumbasses most likely to post erotic pics of themselves on Craigslist, twittering to underage girls etc.., b) instruct some obscure but computer savvy blogger to continuously monitor what the “prime suspects” are doing online? With luck and good timing, you’ll uncover a juicy scandal or two while temporarily taking the wind out of your opponent’s sails.


  • nuser

    Shouldn’t that headline read: Why did Boehner demand the resignation of Weiner, when he did not demand it of Mark Sanford, Vitter…….and oops , what of his own dalliance and fornication?

  • sparse

    the framing of the issue in this article is clearly meant to point out hypocrisy. maybe there are other answers?

    first off- clinton’s was a sex scandal. weiner’s is a judgment scandal. he displayed a stunning lack of common sense doing something he had to get caught at. they are not the same thing. that’s one big reason weiner got ousted.

    they frame it as a power issue-clinton had it, weiner didn’t. it could easily be recast as an importance issue. weiner was one member of congress, and the scandal he created was getting in the way of the democratic agenda in washington. clinton was a sitting president. he was the democratic agenda in washington. one can be replaced without any real effect on anything, but you can’t just replace a president without a hitch (which is why we put so much effort into choosing them).

    that, and the two scandals did not happen in a vacuum in a laboratory. they happened in the real world, and one happened after the other happened. maybe people learned something by going through the clinton scandal, maybe the nation’s mood is different in the wake of a ginormous financial collapse and a weak recovery, less forgiving than they are in an economic boom.

  • armstp

    It is shameful that some Democrats threw Weiner under the bus…. for what exactly? A consensual private email exchange. Again Democrats bowing to the media circus and lynch mob. Grow a fricking backbone.

  • Nanotek

    “Why Dems Turned on Weiner, not Clinton”


  • armstp


    Rachel Maddow: Anthony Weiner Resignation Will Damage Democrats ‘For A Generation’

    Rachel Maddow went on a tear Thursday, condemning Democrats for forcing Anthony Weiner to resign and warning them that they have damaged themselves “probably for a generation” because of their actions.

    Maddow has repeatedly decried what she views as a double standard: Weiner was forced out because of his sexts and pictures, but Republicans like David Vitter and John Ensign managed to stay in office even though they broke the law.

    “Democrats have not only refused to hold Republicans accountable for the double standard, but they have joined with Republicans in piling on with the demands that Anthony Weiner had to resign even as David Vitter stays in the Senate,” Maddow said. She then went on a long monologue, listing all the Republicans and Democrats who were not forced out of office even after admitting to more serious ethical violations than Weiner.

    “Anthony Weiner, who was not accused of corruption, who does not appear to have done anything illegal, who does not even appear to have had sex with any of the women with any of the people with whom he had scandalous talk and picture-taking, for him a line was drawn,” Maddow concluded, her voice bristling with anger. She then turned her focus on the media, saying that the story was actually “the media covering the media ending a man’s career.”

    Maddow ended by addressing Democrats. She issued a dire warning.

    “Congratulations, Democrats,” she said. “In an era of unhinged, ideological, big money conservative media that is wholly and admittedly divorced from the precepts of journalism, in hounding Anthony Weiner into resigning … you have just fed and unleashed this beast onto yourselves, probably for a generation.”

  • Graychin

    Bill Clinton also has balls of steel. Weiner does not.

    Weiner could have ridden the storm out if he had been willing to endure the heat for a while. His constituents still supported him. He wasn’t willing.

    The consequences of the resignation of a president are much different than the resignation of a congressman. Bill Clinton had that in his favor too.

    One good thing that comes from this episode – a bright light is shining on Republican hypocrisy in general and on David Vitter in particular.