What Representative Weiner did was wrong, dishonest, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. However, many have tried to hold Weiner to an unfair moral standard. Nancy Pelosi recommended Weiner resign from Congress, but she did not do the same to William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson. Jefferson is the former nine-term Congressman from Louisiana’s Second District, who was sentenced to thirteen years for bribery after a corruption investigation, the longest sentence ever given to a Congressman, in 2009. Jefferson was the one who hid $90,000 in his Washington-home freezer. The money was wrapped in $10,000 increments and hidden in Pillsbury piecrust and Boca burgers boxes. Jefferson spent an entire two-year term in office after the scandal, before which Speaker-elect Pelosi announced that Jefferson would regain his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee as long as he was “cleared of wrongdoing in an ongoing federal corruption probe.”
When Bill Clinton used a cigar to fornicate a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky after repeated reports of infidelity, Democrats came from across the country to the media in a defense of the President.
Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said of incumbent Louisiana Senator David Vitter, “The liberal media should not compare Vitter to Weiner. Vitter is a pro-family conservative. G-d forgave the sins of his pampered lifestyle.” But, Vitter did solicit prostitution on multiple occasions, including from the D.C. Madam (whose prostitution service took down then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer).
Many have called for recipients of Anthony Weiner’s donations to return the money, or donate it to charity. However, there was hardly such pressure when two-term Republican Congressman Chris Lee resigned office after soliciting sex on Craigslist using his real name but a fictitious personal background. Lee resigned on February 9, 2011, the same day Gawker made the story public.
There have been tons of sex scandals and illegal activities implicating high-level elected officials. Yet, for some reason Weiner has been held to an oddly high standard, which has not been politicized on Party grounds. Some speculate that Weiner was particularly disliked, that he was not a very nice person. Like Eliot Spitzer, who was brought down by his scandal (and has done a good job of recovering his public image), Weiner has many powerful enemies, including members of Congress and much of the mainstream media, which he has frequently challenged. Finally, Weiner’s scandal has provided the most graphic access to Americans.
I have no problem with those who think all of the aforementioned officeholders, among others with similar controversies (ex: Mark Sanford, Newt Gingrich…), should have resigned upon their scandals being made public. However, those who find David Vitter or William Jefferson to be of a higher moral standard than Anthony Weiner are wrong. The only possible justification for the discrepencies is a suggestion that Weiner is a genuinely worse person than the others, and that the others, conversely, are good people who merely made forgivable mistakes. In most cases (Clinton might be an exception because of his incredible significance to the country as President, but still, very difficult to objectively determine), this hardly seems to be a plausible argument.
Regardless, Congressman Weiner has announced his intentions to resign office and I am done discussing Weinergate.