Democratic insiders: Weiner's chances of survival are slim

I’ll bet that same headline ran about Ted Kennedy after Chappaquiddick, which was a much worse scandal. Fast-forward 10 years and Teddy was threatening to upset a sitting president in the Democratic primary.

Don’t underestimate the left’s ability to forgive a true-blue progressive.

Many of New York insiders contacted by The Huffington Post thought Weiner might revive himself, but only if there wasn’t another graphic or lurid chapter to the scandal. That might be overly hopeful, they added, predicting a slow drip of damaging revelations that could last all summer in New York’s already heated media market.

“He lied. He carried on a deception for a week in the national media,” said one influential and disgusted New York Democratic operative. “He should be hounded out of office.”

A fellow lawmaker was also pessimistic about Weiner’s survival. “I don’t think so,” the legislator said of the congressman maintaining his post. “I think the leadership has already turned on him.”…

“How is he going to raise money? Who in the delegation is going to campaign with him?” one New York Democrat wondered, noting that Representative Lee resigned over less…

On top of that, one New York lawmaker noted that the state is about to go through a redistricting of House seats in which it will lose two districts. There would be little incentive to protect a disgraced Weiner in a district that was not drawn to protect minority voting rights.

Granted, Teddy was a Kennedy! and Anthony is a, er, Weiner, but all’s not lost. His mayoral chances are shot, of course, at least in the near term: New Yorkers aren’t about to give him a promotion after he got caught e-mailing pics of his dork to lady chat buddies. I think he’d have a hell of a hard time winning reelection to the House too if this story had broken six months or a year from now, with little time left to repair his image before the campaign started rolling. In that case Democratic leaders probably would have tried to force him out before the GOP nationalized the issue. As it is, he’s got time to lie low and wait for people to get bored with this story. If I were advising him, I’d tell him to avoid the cameras for the rest of the summer and then come roaring back in the fall as the loudmouthed, table-pounding, confrontational liberal the left knows and loves. Whatever the issue du jour is come September — Medicare reform, probably — he should seize it and take any opportunity the media offers him to talk about it, even at the risk of igniting a new round of “wiener” jokes online. The more outspoken and hard-left he is, the more predictable “comeback!” press coverage he’ll get and the more the nutroots will embrace him as a true champion who didn’t let the Evil Wingnutz destroy him. If he plays his cards right and stays out in front on the issues they care about, by the time next spring rolls around, the Democratic leadership will be too worried about alienating his fans to pull the trapdoor on him via redistricting or otherwise. A centrist Democrat in his predicament would be in deep trouble (or would they?), but a progressive hero will benefit from “we can’t spare this man — he fights” logic among the base.

And don’t forget, he has powerful patrons in New York Democratic circles who’ll go to bat for him if need be. Exit quotation from his mentor, Chuck Schumer: “[Weiner] remains a talented and committed public servant, and I pray he and his family can get through these difficult times.”