The Liberal Case Against Weiner

Most Democrats in Congress want Anthony Weiner gone, but I've been surprised at how many liberals don't agree. I've laid out my reason for why Weiner should resign here, and on various radio and TV shows this week I've been defending that proposition against liberals. Most of the people supporting Weiner object to the idea that he should have to resign when Republicans caught in similar, or worse, scandals--David Vitter (prostitutes), John Ensign (affair with a staffer), Larry Craig (wide stance) etc.--did not. For the record, I think they should have resigned, too. But that has no bearing on Weiner's situation; what he did, he did to himself. It's a Democratic problem, and Democrats especially should want him gone.

Here's why. Every time a scandal like Weiner's hits the headlines and the perpetrator refuses to resign, it further erodes people's faith in government. They grow disgusted with the person, the party, and ultimately their government. That may not matter much to Republicans, who are no fans of government. But it ought to matter a great deal to liberals, since the Democratic Party is the party of government. Although it rarely gets much press attention, government can be a great force for good. But that message rarely breaks through, and scandals like Weiner make it much, much harder to do so. There's a reason so much of the public is so angry and skeptical about the new health care law: they don't trust government to implement it. And who can blame them, when people like Anthony Weiner are what leap to mind when voters think "government"?

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Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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