Saved by the Heckle: Sympathy for Weiner After Raucous Resignation
Reporters and viewers were shocked by the chaos of press conference
Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress Thursday afternoon, and the chaos in the crowd at the press conference managed to create a little sympathy for the Democrat, who's been subject of much derision for the past three weeks. Benjy Bonk of the Howard Stern show shouted at Weiner, "Are you bigger than seven inches?" before he was escorted away by police. The mob that gleefully destroyed him now maybe feels a teeny bit bad for him.
White House press secretary Jay Carney alluded to the press corps salivating for more Weinergate, ending his own Q&A by saying, "I know you guys got somewhere to go at 2," according to Jennifer Bendery of The Huffington Post. But it was more than most journalists were expecting. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza tweeted, "Holy cow. This is a TOTAL circus." Benjy Sarlin called it "embarrassing." Politico's Ben Smith mused, "Radio shouter successfully upstaged Weiner, which probably built more sympathy for him in room than anything he could have said." At Talking Points Memo, Sarlin and Eric Lach described the scene:
The last few weeks were an embarrassing circus for the Congressman as more and more salacious details about his personal life emerged, from purported naked photos to alleged racy chat logs, and the lawmaker was besieged by reporters. His final press conference was no different, featuring a mix of boos and cheers as he announced his decision and a prankster from the Howard Stern show screaming questions about his sexual prowess throughout.
According to ABC News' Michael Falcone, Ginger Lee says of her former pen pal, "Hope that the treatment that he is receiving will help him to control his impulses."
Weiner apologized to his family and the public, and said, "I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do, to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it... Unfortunately the distraction I have created has made that impossible, so today I am announcing my resignation from Congress so my colleagues can get back to work.... I'll be looking for other ways to continue my talents to make sure we live up to that most New York and American of ideals." New York's Chris Rovzar notes that last line and says it could be "a hint that we haven't heard the last from him."
But Good's Ann Friedman says it's not Weiner who should return, but his wife, Huma Abedin. Abedin, a longtime top aide for Hillary Clinton, should run for Weiner's seat, Friedman argues. Many women broke into politics after their husbands died, so why not one whose husband lost his seat over a sex scandal?
"In some ways, Hillary Clinton cut this path herself. It took a full decade, sure, but her decision to stay in her marriage, gain political expertise and public prominence, and then hit the campaign trail herself was undoubtedly a smart one. As political sex scandals have become downright common, there's no reason why Abedin should have to wait 10 years to make a run for Weiner's job. '[T]he Democrats are furious at this guy,' James Carville told CNN. 'He is married to one of the most popular people in the Democratic Party.'"
The press conference madness didn't mellow Choire Sicha's disdain for Weiner. "Anthony Weiner gave a press conference in which he quit his job in Congress: 'and most importantly I can continue to heal from the damage I have caused' is something that he said, and well, okay? Wait, what? So long and good luck. See you in your new job on MSNBC soon most likely. Blech." And there were those who blamed the raucous scene on Weiner himself. As Time's Jay-Newton Small asked on Twitter, "Weiner's not taking questions. Dude, why not just release a statement and let it go??"