I have a saying: “Good advice is easy to give, but hard to take.” As a total outsider (it’s hard to be more outside The Beltway than I am), I have some advice for you, Anthony Weiner, which you can take or leave, and it’s this: Go back to business as usual in the House.
I’m sure that this seems stupid and impossible on its face, particularly to you, but I think there’s a certain amount of logic in favor of this course.
First, your instinct is probably to hunker down, stay out of sight and wait for the heat to die down, as it were. That’s what most politicians in this situation do, but I think it’s akin to locking your brakes on an icy road. In that case, you’ll either spin out of control or hit something, or both.
In this case, hunkering down can only accomplish two things: It postpones the inevitable or makes you increasingly irrelevant, or – in a worst case scenario – both.
Second, the Republican opposition says you should resign for ‘conduct unbecoming’. I think you can ignore that for the hypocrisy it is. However, even some of the Democrats in your caucus have suggested that you step down, alleging that your effectiveness as a representative of your constituents has been impaired. Of course, we know that the real reason is that Democratic politicians are among the most timid forms of life, and what they really want to do is to just change the subject back to Medicare and vouchers.
You can, however, address their stated reason for suggesting your resignation: Don’t let this scandal impair your effectiveness in how you represent your constituents.
Continue fighting and speaking out as you always have. Continue appearing as a guest on political talk shows. Keep making the kinds of speeches on the House floor that make such compelling video.
This will be very hard, and very embarrassing. You’ll appear on TV or radio to talk about an issue, and you know that the interviewer will bring up this humiliating scandal at some point, and you’ll have to discuss it in some form or fashion. But you know what? If you hunker down for 2 or 3 or 6 months and then start to do interviews, it will come up anyway, except that you’ll have lost all those months of your political life.
If you talk or make a fiery speech on the House floor, opportunities for discussion of this scandal are pretty much limited by House and Parliamentary rules. Business will be conducted before C-Span pretty much as usual. Politicians on one side or the other will make their snarky remarks or snide comments to cameras off the floor, but so what? They’ll do that anyway, now or in 6 months. Or both. In either case, it will pass and become nothing more than an occasional background noise. Sooner or later, it will forever be an occasional background noise.
This whole texting scandal was stupid; far beneath you as the very bright guy you are, but I know you don’t need me to tell you that. Nonetheless, you have a base of very enthusiastic fans, both in and outside your district, who want you to continue fighting the good fight.
As a Democratic politician, you have been a uniquely strong advocate for Liberal values. You have hit your stride over the last couple of years. Many see you as a political model for the future of the Democratic Party: A strong Progressive, outspoken about your ideals, unwilling to be intimidated by the opposition, speaking truth to power.
Continue to be that person. You’ve earned some ridicule, and you’ll get it, but it will pass. You’ll learn and grow. I hope that your close family and friends will forgive you and move on with you. Many out in the public want to see you go forward, and I think you should do so now. Show your constituents, your fans, and your opponents that even this terrible time in your life will not keep you from vociferously and tenaciously fighting for your ideals.
Good advice is easy to give and hard to take, and this advice, even if it’s good, will be really hard for you to take, but I hope you’ll seriously consider it.