"Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person," the statement reads. "In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well. Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents."
Weiner's abrupt departure comes on the heels of the news that Weiner had had private messages with a 17 year old high school student, although both Weiner and the minor's parents insist that no inappropriate messages were exchanged. Weiner did not absolutely rule out the notion of treatment at his press conference Monday, but made a point of saying that this was not a subject for which he felt could be eliminated by treatment but rather was an error in judgment.
Unfortunately, Weiner leaves as pressure for him to resign ratchets up. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and DCCC Chair Steve Israel have all called for Weiner to resign, despite the fact that polls show his constituents do not want him to and there's a great likelihood his seat will be districted out next year.
The House Democratic leadership went public today with their unequivocal desire for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to resign his office as a result of a scandal involving sexual conversations and explicit photos sent over the Internet. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DNC Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and DCCC Chair and fellow New York Congressman Steve Israel simultaneously released statements calling on Weiner to resign.Pelosi's statement:
"Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help. I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress."
"It is with great disappointment that I call on Representative Anthony Weiner to resign. The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner's continued service in Congress is untenable. This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House - and for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important - his and his family's well-being."
"Anthony's inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people. With a heavy heart, I call on Anthony to resign.
"I pray for his family and hope that Anthony will take time to get the help he needs without the distractions and added pressures of Washington, DC."
Notably, James Clyburn broke from the Democratic leadership (such as it can be called in this instance) and supported Weiner.
Personally, I think this whole event is indicative of the weak leadership we have in Congress. Without defending Weiner (and with the caveat that if anything inappropriate was exchanged with the minor, all bets are off), the Democrats caving to Republican politicking and haymaking shows why it's such a struggle to move that Overton Window to the left. As long as Weiner's communications with the minor remain appropriate--and all indications so far is that they will--then Weiner's committed no infraction to require this abandonment from his own party. Did the Republicans do that for Vitter? Ensign? Coburn? Hell, have they done it for Boehner and his lobbyist girlfriend who is not his wife? No, no, no, and hell no.
But the Democrats are only too willing to give up on someone who was openly targeted by conservative smear merchants, who has broken no laws and who still enjoys the support of the majority of his constituents. Party of the people? Not so much. Hey, how 'bout we pay as much attention to the clear ethics violations of Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife as we do to Anthony Weiner?