The two most common arguments offered against his resigning have been that (1) what Weiner did was not illegal and (2) it was not even as bad as an extramarital affair because he never met, let alone had physical contact with, any of the women to whom he sent naked and semi-naked photos of himself.
The argument's entirely beside the point.
The point -- the whole point -- is the effect of what he did on the United States House of Representatives and on the country as a whole, especially young people.
There is a simple way to prove this. Let us imagine that some congressman had walked onto the House floor in his underwear. I think it is fair to assume that just about every Democrat and Republican in the country would demand his resignation. But why? That action is not illegal, and it certainly does not constitute a form of infidelity to his wife.
The reason people would demand his resignation is that such behavior disgraced the House of Representatives.
That is the issue here. When a member of Congress sends pictures of his penis to women around the country, he has demeaned Congress.
And he has done so far more than any member of Congress whose extramarital affair was publicly disclosed.
Most Americans understand that Congress, like every other institution, including their local church and synagogue, is composed of sinners. While we might wish that every member of Congress were as upstanding as we hope our pastor, priest or rabbi would be, most of us live in the real world and do not believe that marital infidelity automatically disqualifies one either from running for, or from holding, public office.
Furthermore, we understand that marital infidelity can be solely a matter between a husband and wife, and is not necessarily the country's business.
But what Weiner did is the country's business because of its effect on the reputation of the House and because of its effect on young Americans.
If I were a member of Congress, I would not be livid at every one of my colleagues who had had an affair. But I would be livid at Weiner. Every day he remains a congressman, he makes every one of his colleagues look bad: You can send photos such as Weiner did to women around America and still remain a member of this institution.
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