What a mess. Weiner is off to a treatment center for "psychiatric counseling," which will require a "short leave of absence" from his Congressional duties:
Representative Anthony D. Weiner planned to check himself into a treatment center on Saturday after House Democratic leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, called on him to resign and suggested he needed psychiatric counseling. A spokeswoman for Mr. Weiner said he would request a leave of absence from the House and seek treatment, but provided no further details.
“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said the spokeswoman, Risa Heller. “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.”
This is pathetic. Being a lecherous, arrogant, lying Congressman isn't a disease. It's a reckless and selfish choice that Weiner has indulged for some time, it appears. The only thing for which Weiner may need some counseling is a severely bruised ego, as Democratic Party heavyweights triggered a coordinated, no-holds-barred offensive this afternoon, seeking his immediate resignation:
Three weighty Democratic voices - including Nancy Pelosi - on Saturday called for the resignation of embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who has been under fire after admitting to inappropriate communications with women online. The House Minority Leader, and the chairmen of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in separate statements called for Weiner to step down.
DCCC chair Steve Israel also wished Weiner well in his personal life, but said that the scandal has "become an insurmountable distraction" to the House. "The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner's continued service in Congress is untenable," DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, also calling it a distraction.
Former DCCC Chair Rep. Chris Van Hollen has also added his voice to the chorus. Tomorrow will inevitably bring a torrent of bipartisan calls for his ouster on the Sunday morning chat shows, officially reducing Weiner to disgraced, persona non grata status in Washington. Can he hang on? Jim Geraghty thinks the scorn of his colleagues isn't enough to force Weiner out, but I wonder if a critical mass of opprobrium might do the trick, especially in light of this pitiful "rehab" stunt. Also, does anyone recall what Weiner himself said about blame-shift and "seeking help" during his Monday presser? Dave Weigel sure does:
"This is not something that can be treated away; this is my own personal mistake."
What's changed since then? Not much, aside from the entire Democratic establishment officially turning its back on Weiner. That, and it was revealed that Weiner was sending private messages to an underage high school student. That element of this sordid story continues to unfold, but it appears that the girl (or someone) has deleted the contents of those online conversations -- which she insists were innocent. The police are now involved. Patterico has been on the case, and is doing a remarkable job of putting the pieces together. The resulting puzzle is hideous (content warning):
In September 2010, Weiner said to the Las Vegas blackjack dealer Lisa Weiss: “Cape. Tights. Looking for my sidekick.” That led, the next day, to this:
[WEISS:] oooohhh…i bet you look hot in tights! can i be your sidekick? get your ass to vegas!!
[WEINER:] stop staring at my weapon! I’m effecting the vegas trip. this whole reelection thing is keeping me tied up
It was a line, you see, that got a response. And it eventually led to Weiner saying things like: “You will g-- on me before you c-- with me in you.”
So, when he said to young 17-year-old Ethel: “I came back strong. Large. In charge. Tights and cape sh-t …” it’s important to remember that he was throwing out a line that had worked before. Maybe he just ran out of time with Ethel.
By the way, he knew damn well he was talking to someone in high school. The New York Times article Aaron linked earlier has the following passage:
The girl’s contact with Mr. Weiner started in early April, after her trip to Washington. The congressman spoke to her school group, and she began following him on Twitter, posting a public message saying how much she liked his speech.
Two days later, Mr. Weiner began following her on Twitter. On her profile, she says she aspires to be president. In a private message he sent to her, he said: “How hip am I talking to a future president.”
Delighted that she had heard directly from a congressman, the girl wrote a public post on her Twitter feed: “talking to Rep Weiner from New York right now! is my life real?”
So, he gives a speech to a high school group. A high school junior praises the speech. And then he starts following her after that praise of his speech. And after he reads her profile, in which she says she wants to be president, and also talks about . . . marching band:
I love LeBron James, marching band, and sleeping. Politics is my one true love, and I will be president.
So this guy knew he was talking to a high school girl, and he used a grooming line that had been successful with an older woman.
Patterico also points out the tone of Weiner's "tights and cape sh-t" comment is skin-crawlinging inappropriate, particularly considering that he is a 46-year-old married member of Congress, and she is a high school junior. I'll reprise a question I posed on Twitter earlier (which elicited dissenting opinions among righties): If Weiner defies party leadership and refuses to resign, does Pelosi & Co green-light the expulsion process?
UPDATE - No resignation decision until after Huma returns from a State Department trip?
Weiner told them that he would not make a move until his wife Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, returned from her trip to Africa and the Middle East with Clinton. Abedin is expected back on Wednesday.