Why won’t Weiner walk?
posted at 9:25 am on June 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Puzzled why Anthony Weiner hasn’t already packed his bags and headed for a little blissful obscurity — or at least blissful in comparison to the past couple of weeks? Chuck Bennett reminds us that the Congressman hasn’t exactly built himself a parachute for his post-electoral career. In fact, without his Congressional salary, he would have rather hefty bills and no apparent means to pay them off (via JWF):
Unlike many of his peers in the House, Weiner doesn’t have a business or even a law degree to fall back on.
Weiner, 46, took home $156,117 in 2010, according to his federal tax returns released by his staff. …
He owes between $10,000 and $15,000 on his American Express card, according to his most recent financial-disclosure forms.
He could live off of his wife’s salary, which is comparable to his own, until Weiner figured out what to do with his life, but that might be a bit awkward, considering the circumstances of his unemployment. Weiner has never worked in the private sector as a post-collegiate career, going straight into staff work for other politicians before winning a City Council seat for himself. Presumably, finding work in the private sector for the first time at age 47 would be difficult enough even without the resumé enhancer he’s added this month to his record.
For most politicians, the two obvious routes would either be lobbying or media. Disgrace has a way of eroding market value in both industries. Eliot Spitzer managed to overcome it when CNN hired him as an analyst and then as a host, but he’s a singular exception to the rule. No one’s offering Eric Massa or Chris Lee talking-head slots, and they’re not getting high-profile lobbying jobs, either.
If Democrats really want to get Weiner to quit, they’re going to have to find some sort of parachute for him. Either way, though, Weiner will likely not last past this term. Democrats in New York will either eliminate his seat through redistricting (the state loses two seats in the House after the 2010 Census), or they will set up a primary challenge next year. They may play hardball next week if Weiner’s still around by stripping him of his committee assignments and leaving him without any real voice at all, and hope his constituents change their minds and start clamoring for a resignation. Otherwise, Richard Gere pretty much sums up Weiner’s plight in this clip from An Officer and a Gentleman:
Update: Jazz Shaw sends his thoughts via e-mail this morning:
In addition to my only partly joking top five list this week, there’s a number of other considerations here. The latest Marist poll is showing that 55% of registered voters in his district don’t think he should, which is fairly easy to read as a willingness to vote for him again next year. Democrats are upset with him, yes, but it’s primarily the DC beltway Democrats who want him gone. The NY Dem party, while publicly clucking their tongues, isn’t really losing much sleep over him at this point. And let’s remember, DC has nothing to say over redistricting out here. It’s up to the state parties.
As to redistricting, the last two state party calls I sat in on have been revealing on that front. For sure, absolutely nothing is settled, and taking out NY9 as low hanging fruit is absolutely one option still on the table, but it’s far from the only one. Two years ago, when the state Dem party felt like they had a MUCH stronger hand, they were talking about taking out Pete King’s district. Now, with the power shifting back to the status quo, that’s pretty much off the table, but they exposed their hand and the GOP is actually looking at any line shifts downstate with an eye toward strengthening King’s district, not weakening it, and that will be a factor in play before anyone agrees to give NY9 the ax.
For that matter, the national attention will be paid to which districts get eliminated. But out here, what I’ve been learning is that the far more interesting and potentially high impact decisions will be how the rest of the lines get moved. (And they are all going to get moved.) I think I already described to you how that *could* really help the GOP here in NY22 if one plan under consideration gets adopted, but there are a lot more cases like that. We have single districts in the North Country that are physically bigger than New Jersey in terms of square miles because the population density is so low in the Adirondack Park and the stretches to the north and east of there. Expect those lines to move, but it will also mean juggling all the district lines out near Buffalo, where we’ll probably lose a GOP seat.
Bottom line, the national eye is focused on Weiner, but he’s really an afterthought at the state level. And if he doesn’t get redistricted out, why leave? Not to argue with your wisdom, but the talk of a primary against Weiner is almost certainly just that… talk. Not impossible, but I’d put it at fairly unlikely to succeed. And as you point out, it’s not like the guy has a lot of other options waiting for him. He’s got more than a year for some other breaking news or big scandal to divert the media’s attention, and at that point, he can just try to hang on, win another election, and go back to business as usual.