Remember when the title “Honorable” bestowed upon members of Congress meant something?
Neither do I.
Decades of broken promises, ethical lapses, unseemly fundraising and assorted scandals have imbedded the perception that with rare exception members are ambitious politicians intent on exercising and holding onto power. The best we can realistically hope for is that they will be true to the political agenda they profess, thereby advancing the interests of the constituents who voted for them regardless of their personal failings.
But the case of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York sets a new low for what, if he continues to serve, will be the acceptable standard of congressional behavior.
By now you know how Weiner texted lewd photos of himself to various women then lied about it for more than a week before coming clean at a bizarre and brazen press conference Monday.
Weiner says he is “accepting responsibility” for his actions. By admitting he sent the photos and lied about it, he may in some perverse sense be accepting responsibility. But by not leaving office, he is accepting no consequences. What is the meaning of accepting responsibility if it comes without consequence? “Yes your, honor, I robbed the bank, but I’m not willing to go to jail or give the money back. I’ve accepted responsibility, isn’t that enough?”
Some praise Weiner for finally telling the truth but does anyone believe that if the lie had worked, he wouldn’t have stayed with it indefinitely? Weiner came clean because more damning evidence was about to surface, not because of some sudden realization that honesty is the best policy.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says she wants an investigation to find out whether Weiner misused any government resources in maintaining x-rated electronic relationships with six women over a period of three years. Seriously?
It’s OK to send pictures of your nether regions to college girls, lie when confronted, repeat the lie numerous times in multiple forums, lash out at your questioners, claim victim status for yourself and allow innocent parties to be impugned as malicious hackers, but you by God better not use a government Blackberry to do it?
If every member of Congress, Democrat and Republican, does not unite behind a movement to force Weiner from office, then it truly is a sad day for our nation.
It is a day when those elected to serve no longer see that service as an honor bestowed on them by the people, but rather as an irrevocable privilege granted to them on the basis of their self-proclaimed superiority.
Conspicuously non-committal in the first 48 hours after the Weiner press conference have been Collier County’s two representatives in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack has issued no statement and did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment and asking if he would support removal of Weiner from office, a measure Congress has at its disposal to expel its most intransigent ne’er-do-wells.
He appeared on Sean Hannity’s show Monday night to discuss the matter but stopped short of calling for Weiner’s ouster, saying, “I think he’s lost the public's trust,” and, “He’ll have to answer those questions.”
Leslie Veiga, spokeswoman for U.S. David Rivera, said of Rivera, “As of right now, he doesn’t really have a comment on the situation, He thinks the facts speak for themselves.”
Rivera, who faces ethics allegations over his personal and campaign finances, may not want to cast stones from the glass house he’s been uncomfortably occupying since taking office in January. But he has a point. The facts do speak for themselves.
The fact that United States representatives won’t in unison and without prompting say that what Weiner has done is totally unacceptable and that he must leave office immediately shows how far we’ve strayed from the notion that members of Congress are, by definition, honorable.
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten