Anthony Weiner undoubtedly felt pressured these last few weeks to resign his House seat over his dishonesty and online sexual indiscretions. The leaders of his party, everyone from President Obama to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi on down, were publicly in agreement that he should go.
But from Weiner’s vantage point, the question must be asked in all sincerity: Why should he be the one to resign?
The recent history of congressional scandals suggests Weiner had little reason to bow to party leaders, and every reason to stick it out. The Democratic leadership has shown an amazing capacity to tolerate and even encourage corruption that far exceeds Weiner’s misdeeds.
Remember Rep. Charles Rangel? A quick recap of his rap sheet: The onetime chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, which writes the nation’s tax laws, was guilty of massive tax evasion. The Sunlight Foundation catalogued “28 instances in which Rangel omitted assets worth between $239,026 and $831,000 that were either purchased, sold, or held from his financial disclosures.”
He further solicited millions for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College directly from his congressional office—even from a number of interests that had business before his powerful committee. There’s also his illegal use of rent-controlled apartments and the House parking garage, as well as other infractions too numerous to name. Rangel has been reelected and is still in office after being censured by the House Ethics Committee.
And what about Rep. Maxine Waters? The House Ethics Committee charged the California Democrat with three violations for helping secure a $12 million TARP bailout for One United Bank, even though her husband was a former board member and had a substantial financial interest in the bank. The president of One United was also revealed to be a cocaine abuser, and the foundering bank was paying for his $6.4 million Malibu home and Porsche even as Waters was securing his bank a taxpayer bailout.
After the scandal broke, Waters was unrepentant. She sent members of her staff to protest at an event featuring Nancy Pelosi, where they held up signs that read “Let’s fight for Maxine Waters.” Questioned about the tactic, Waters blamed her persecution on racism. “It’s about black people . . . These signs will show up wherever large numbers of African Americans gather,” she said.