Anthony Weiner's resignation has been the first piece of good news since the scandal broke. It was never plausible to believe that because Weiner may not have broken any law and still enjoyed the trust of some constituents, he should keep his seat.
Those who made Talmudic distinctions between public and private behavior missed the point. The fact is that Weiner was a public official, and his behavior was so pathetically adolescent that it only served to disgrace his party and his office. Had he stayed on the job, he would have been a figure of ridicule and distraction for the next 16 months.
Those who pointed out that a long list of Republican hypocrites like Sen. David Vitter have committed more explicit sexual acts (Vitter visited whores), but managed to hang on to their seats missed the point, too. If Republicans have a higher tolerance for sleaze, let them be the party of double standards.
Some political insiders argued that the perfect solution would be for Weiner to keep his seat for this Congress, which would then be lost to redistricting when New York's new lines were redrawn for 2012. They were too clever by half. Allowing Weiner to stay knowing that he would soon be gone would render him the lamest of lame ducks, without solving the problem of his continuing role as partisan pinata. He would have been ineffectual and pitiable. Whenever he rose to speak, no matter what the subject, it would have invited snickers. Holding onto his seat would have been an empty formality, and worse.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and her associates displayed courage in insisting that Weiner go since his district is not quite a safe Democratic seat. Until now, Weiner's effort to explain the unexplainable and hang on to office has only resulted in a series of awkward stunts. Let's hope that his leave of absence to seek professional help was not another failed political maneuver, but a painful decision that led to the beginning of counseling, contemplation and personal healing -- and the realization that he really had no choice.
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