Will he or won’t he? Anthony Weiner has held out for more than ten days after his confessional press conference and another five days since acknowledging his private interactions with a high-school junior without resigning his office. As his wife returns from her overseas trip with Hillary Clinton, Democrats hope that Huma Abedin will bring the embarrassment to a swift close:
Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, returned to Washington early Wednesday from a trip abroad, setting off a new round of speculation that the New York Democrat’s resignation could come soon.
Friends of Weiner have said he would not make a decision on whether to quit until he had a chance to talk to Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who returned to the United States from a trip to Africa with Clinton that began early last week.
Weiner and Abedin are expected to meet on Wednesday, and she was spotted driving into the garage alone at their northwest D.C. apartment building in the early morning hours. She has not yet been seen leaving the building.
Abedin, who is 35 and in early months of pregnancy, is said to have urged her husband last week to fight to keep his job. But, while she was away, pressure on Weiner got more intense, with top House Democrats calling for him to resign.
National Journal reported yesterday that Democrats are holding their breath, which is one reason why they delayed a decision on Weiner’s committee assignments:
House Democrats emerged from a closed-door meeting on Tuesday saying they wanted Rep.Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., to resign, but they conceded that their best strategy for getting to that point is hoping that Weiner’s wife will persuade him to go. …
When Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., was asked in a news conference if the caucus had decided to take action against Weiner for his lurid online activities—such as stripping him of his committees—he said, “there’s been no decision on that.”
Other lawmakers echoed that there was no such decision made at the meeting.
But a senior Democratic aide said there was much anticipation expressed by members—if not desperation—that Weiner might be talked into resigning by his wife, Huma Abedin, later this week.
The Hill reports that Democrats have decided on a new strategy on the scandal, which is to pretend as if it doesn’t exist, at least for now. In their desperation to move off of the story, they seem to be contradicting their own public statements on the economy:
The Democrats are hoping to shift public attention away from Weiner’s dubious celebrity for fear that his personal crisis could become the party’s political handicap. …
Most Democrats have declined to comment on the scandal — a trend that continued Tuesday — while others sought to shift the national discussion back to more substantial issues like healthcare and unemployment.
“We’re discussing the economy and other issues,” Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said tersely as she left the caucus meeting.
“Oil prices are being manipulated, in order to be higher. That’s what this caucus was about,” said an equally concise Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). “The rest I’m not commenting on.”
Some Democrats scolded the Fourth Estate for showering so much attention on the tawdry Weiner episode even as millions of people remain unemployed and the economy continues to limp.
Excuse me, but aren’t these the same Democrats who are insisting that we’ve had an “economic turnaround“? The contradictions here are priceless.
Also, it’s a little hard to ignore the scandal when Gloria Allred is holding press conferences on behalf of a porn star who wants to discuss dozens of messages from Weiner. The big news from the presser was that Ginger Lee alleges that Weiner asked her to lie, and often talked about his “package” in his e-mails. The result? The porn star no longer has much confidence in him and he should resign:
Ginger Lee, flanked by her celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, told a news conference in New York, that Weiner “asked me to lie” about their interchanges which included about 100 emails as well as messages over Twitter.
Lee, a stripper, said her relationship began with the Democratic lawmaker from New York over political issues such as a woman’s right to choose abortion, and health care, but that Weiner kept trying to turn the conversation sexual.
She said she never reciprocated his lewd messages, which were often about “his package.”
“I think that Anthony Weiner should resign because he lied. He lied to the public and the press for more than a week,” she said. “If he lied about this, I can’t have much faith in him about anything else.”
Gloria Allred? Yeah, that strategy of ignoring the story is totally going to work now.
Meanwhile, the National Enquirer added another set of pictures to the growing pile, but these are hardly an issue. Apparently, Weiner posed for “cross dressing pictures” as part of annual Christmas pranks at Plattsburgh State College. I hate to break this to the Enquirer, but that’s not exactly an unknown phenomenon in college. The Hasty Pudding Club at Harvard routinely has men dressing in drag for its well-known theatrical presentations. Even outside of college, cross-dressing for humor is a long tradition in comedy; Eddie Izzard started his career with it. Cutting loose in college is hardly the problem with Weiner’s behavior, but it seems that one or more of his friends from that time period has found a way to cash in on the scandal. Memo to college students: pick your friends carefully, at least if you plan to have a public career later.
Will Weiner resign? If he does, it will be soon. If his wife returns and he sticks around, though, Democrats may wind up revisiting the committee assignments as another way to pressure him into leaving. Clearly they wanted to hold that in reserve — mainly because it’s their last play until an ethics investigation produces an actionable report, which could take months. If he hasn’t resigned by Monday, Democrats have to decide whether to live with him or to escalate matters yet again.