Sources: Weiner "on the fence" about resigning as House launches ethics inquiry

At this point he’s like a boxer who’s out on his feet, still getting punched in the face over and over, but foolishly unwilling to fall down. Having him stick around the House and bleed for months would be pure upside for the GOP, and we’ve all enjoyed the 8,000 Weiner/wiener jokes on late-night TV, but the fight has now reached the point where it’s unpleasant to watch. It’s time to ring the bell.

A Democratic source who spoke to Anthony Weiner after Democratic leaders called on him to resign Saturday told CNN that even with that public hammer dropped on him, Weiner made clear he was still “on the fence” about whether to step down.

Democratic sources CNN has talked to since Saturday said that Weiner told Democrats pressuring him to go that he wanted to wait for his wife Huma to return from a trip with Hillary Clinton. This Democratic source told CNN that Weiner specifically said in their phone conversation that he needs to “look her in the eye” and discuss this before he makes any decision, because he has done enough to hurt her.

The same Democratic source said that Weiner was emotionally falling apart on the phone in this and other conversations and in a state of “despair.” Other Democratic sources who talked to him late last week described him the same way. Another person who spoke to him on Saturday called Weiner’s disposition “turbulent.”

I hope he’s not as bad off as that. If he was, presumably his wife would have cut short her trip and come home to make sure he’s okay, and the Democratic leadership would be taking care not to shove him towards the door too hard. As it is, this afternoon brings another nudge:

House officials say the House Ethics Committee staff has initiated a preliminary inquiry into Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexually charged online relationships with several women.

House officials told The Associated Press on Monday that the inquiry is not yet extensive, and that committee leaders have not indicated whether they will order a more intensive staff investigation. The officials requested anonymity because the committee has yet to make a formal statement.

The ethics investigation would end if and when he quits; that’s why Ensign finally pulled the plug, of course. I assume House leaders will give him a few more days to do the right thing on his own terms, and then if he insists on hanging in there and taking even more TMZ-ish punches to the head, they’ll order a full investigation as yet another nudge. He’ll land on his feet for sure: If a dour character like Client Number Nine can parlay a hooker habit into a primetime gig on CNN, a wisecracking sext machine like Weiner is practically guaranteed a TV deal somewhere. He and Megyn Kelly have enjoyed yelling at each other in the past; make him a regular contributor on Fox and let him and MK do a daily 15-minute “No, You’re Wrong” segment where they talk over each other the whole time. Or better yet, have him on opposite KP. What could go wrong?

You know what would be the perfect time to resign, actually? Tonight, at around, oh, say, 7:30 p.m. ET, with the GOP debate just about to go live. The media will be consumed tomorrow with navel-gazing about who won and who lost, leaving them less time for Weiner’s career postmortem. And to the extent that they do cover it, he’ll finally be helping his party for once by denying some valuable coverage to Republican candidates who need it.