The scandal surrounding lewd photos that Rep. Anthony Weiner took — and shared — of his private parts (among other things) ended as it had begun 19 days before: with a cringe.
The New York Democrat appeared at a senior center in Brooklyn on Thursday to tell his constituents — and the world — what everyone already knew: He was resigning from office.
Weiner made a valiant effort to take the high road. “There is no higher honor in a democracy than being sent by your neighbors to represent them,” he began, but the gawkers and gadflies were determined to turn his final moments as a congressman into a circus.
As Weiner tried to sum up a career in the U.S. House that spanned more than a decade — “I got into politics to help give voice to the many who simply did not have one” — he was shouted down by catcalls that can’t be printed in a family newspaper but that could be heard loud and painfully clear on the live cable television coverage. By the speech’s conclusion, relief and revulsion — for the story, the moment, for all of it — seemed to mingle.
Three weeks ago, Weiner was the boy who would be king: a youthful, liberal, outspoken media darling who was at the top of everyone’s list to be the next mayor of New York.
Today, he stands broken — personally and politically — by his tweets, his Facebook messages, his camera phone and not least, as he put it, by “the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment I have caused.”
What Weiner will be, at least for the next few years, is a bogeyman used by party leaders to scare up-and-coming lawmakers about how quickly it can all collapse. A living, breathing political what-not-to-do lesson.
Anthony Weiner, for hanging on when you should have been hanging it up, you had the worst week in Washington — for a record third consecutive week. Congrats, or something.
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