Democratic Sleazeballs Don’t Resign, They Become Elder Statesmen
Democratic politicians believe that resigning after a scandal is more damning to their reputations than clinging to power and tarnishing their offices.
Based on the reaction of their voting base, apparently they’re right.
On Monday, New York Representative Anthony Weiner held a tearful press conference in which he admitted to having sent lewd photos of himself to half a dozen women and falsely claiming his Twitter account had been hacked. In the same speech, he declared that he nonetheless had no intention of resigning. His defenders in the press have been positively huffy at the mere suggestion.
Last year New York Representative Charles Rangel was found guilty of 11 ethics violations, including failure to pay taxes and non-disclosure of income. The former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman remains proudly in office, after having abused reporters with multiple rounds of curse-laden scolding for daring to inquire about his wrongdoing.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Senators Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Roland Burris were all under investigation, reprimanded, or indicted in connection with the pay-for-play scandal involving President-elect Obama’s Senate seat in 2008, yet all refused to give up their seats. Blagojevich was forced to step down by the Illinois legislature.
New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was compelled to resign after a prostitution scandal in 2008, but shamelessly accepted an offer to host a highly-touted, prime time political talk show on CNN two years later.
Louisiana Representative William Jefferson was found guilty of 11 bribery and corruption charges in 2007 and sentenced to 13 years in jail, but did not resign. He won reelection in 2006, a year after the FBI recovered $90,000 hidden in his freezer, but was voted out next election.
Ohio Representative Jim Traficant was sentenced to 8 years in jail for financial corruption in 2002, but did not resign and was expelled from the House. Not deterred in the least in his political ambitions, Traficant ran a historic (losing) reelection campaign from his prison cell in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. Around the same time, California Representative Gary Condit was revealed to have had an affair with intern Chandra Levy, but declined to resign and even ran for reelection (and lost). Proving that sleazeballs stick up for one another, Condit was the sole ‘nay’ vote in the 420-1 resolution to expel Traficant.
President Bill Clinton lied under oath about his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky in 1998. Clinton was a serial philanderer and sexual harasser and possible rapist. His punishment: increased approval ratings, the chance to stay in office for the remainder of his term, and status since then as a highly sought-after speaker, political consultant, and international ambassador.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was caught on tape smoking crack with an FBI informant in 1990 and sent to jail on drug charges. Nonetheless, Barry served out his full term as mayor. After fulfilling his six-month sentence, Barry shocked the nation by running for and winning the mayoralty in 1994 and serving another four-year term.
Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank spent the 1980s living with a paid escort and convicted felon who was running a prostitution ring out of Frank’s Washington townhouse. Frank was reprimanded by the House, yet won reelection with 66% of the vote the year the scandal was uncovered. He has never resigned, has been given plum political appointments, and has become more popular among supporters over time.
Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy drove a young woman off a bridge and left her to drown in 1969, yet received only a two-month suspended sentence. Though the notoriety from the incident dampened his presidential aspirations, Kennedy never resigned and held office until his death four decades later.
In contrast to these Democratic sleazebags, Republican politicians are more likely to recognize that the honorable thing to do when found guilty of wrongdoing is to quit, even when they have carried out far less egregious acts than Democrats.
Senator John Ensign of Nevada resigned last month over an extramarital affair.
New York Representative Chris Lee resigned this year after it was discovered he had sent shirtless photos to a woman he met online.
Idaho Senator Larry Craig tapped his foot in a bathroom stall to solicit a sexual act, was charged with disorderly conduct, and subsequently announced his resignation in 2007, though the charges were so flimsy that he changed his mind and simply decided not to run for reelection.
Florida Representative Mark Foley sent flirty texts to postpubescent aides; he resigned in 2006.
George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove resigned over his role in the “Lawyergate” non-scandal and the trumped-up Valerie Plame affair. Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales also resigned over Lawyergate.
Tom DeLay resigned in 2006 after being investigated but not indicted in connection with the Abramoff lobbying scandal.
Louisiana Senator and Speaker-elect Bob Livingston resigned in 1999 due to an extramarital affair. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich resigned after charges of financial impropriety in 1997.
President Richard Nixon was involved in activity that would have constituted a slow day at the office during the Clinton presidency, yet he resigned in 1974. Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 after committing tax fraud.
There’s clearly ample wrongdoing on both sides. Why do Democratic politicians feel they have the sacred right to stay in office even after they’ve disgraced themselves and embarrassed the constituents who voted for them?
Simple: Liberals see themselves as sagacious, visionary elites who wield power because they have been sanctioned to control the lives of the ignorant masses.
In contrast, Republican politicians understand that, just as government should be limited in size and scope, so should their powers, which means that if they prove themselves unfit for the job, they are easily replaceable.
Anthony Weiner is a sleazeball, a liar, and a fraud—but hey, he can’t leave, because there’s important work to be done, like nationalizing the country’s health care system.