Rep. Anthony D. Weiner has become the face of the Democratic Party. The New York congressman is embroiled in a scandal. Mr. Weiner has admitted sending sexual messages, as well as a lewd photo of his crotch, to numerous women - six so far and counting. Moreover, a picture of his naked genitals is circulating on the Internet.
Mr. Weiner, however, refuses to resign. At a news conference Monday, he admitted to exercising bad judgment and apologized repeatedly to his wife, Huma Abedin, who is pregnant. But Mr. Weiner insists he broke no laws and can still effectively represent his Queens constituents.
He is wrong. Mr. Weiner is a sexual predator who relentlessly pursued women on the Internet. By sending such graphic pictures and messages, he opened himself to potential criminal blackmail. This was shown by his weeklong campaign of manipulation and public lying. He first claimed that his computer was “hacked into” as part of a “prank.” He then denied the pictures were of him. When that didn’t work, he sought to portray the scandal as a hit job by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. In short, Mr. Weiner desperately tried to cover it up.
Mr. Weiner’s actions are unacceptable for a public representative. His behavior was reckless, demonstrating an appalling lack of judgment. It also showed contempt for his constituents. He disgraced his office, violated his congressional oath to uphold the highest ethical standards and deliberately lied to his constituents and the electorate. Moreover, several messages reveal that he sought to coach a woman into lying about the scandal - including possibly offering the use of his staff and office resources. This would constitute clear abuse of power and misuse of taxpayer dollars. The House Ethics Committee has rightly launched an investigation.
Leading Democrats realize that Weinergate is a cancer on their party. As the economy worsens, the last thing the Obama administration needs is a major scandal that further damages the Democrats’ credibility. Hence, Democrats are beginning to turn on Mr. Weiner. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Mark L. Pryor of Arkansas have demanded he resign. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has even asked that Mr. Weiner get “treatment.” Slowly but surely, the Democratic establishment is urging him to quit.
The problem is that Weinergate goes to the heart of the Democrats’ cultural liberalism. Try as they might to disown him, he embodies the party’s moral rot. Mr. Weiner is a progressive crusader. He has championed almost every secular leftist cause: socialized medicine, government day care, welfare, high taxes, abortion rights, homosexual marriage, gays in the military, sex education in schools and a European-style nanny state. In other words, he peddles sex and socialism - the twin pillars of progressivism.
Democrats are willing to sacrifice ruthlessly one of their rising stars to serve a larger objective - retaining their grip on power. Yet, for decades, it has been liberals who have pushed for condoms to be distributed to high school kids, homosexuality and bisexuality to be taught in schools, the murder of unborn infants to be tolerated, and pornography and permissiveness to be accepted as part of the mainstream. The result has been a coarsening of our culture, the breakdown of the family and the disintegration of a moral consensus. Mr. Weiner is simply a product of modern liberalism - self-absorbed narcissism combined with an obsession for sexual gratification. He did what millions of other perverts do: send pictures of one’s private parts on the Internet for kicks. This is what happens when you destroy basic standards and Judeo-Christian traditions. Moral anarchy reigns.
The Rubicon was crossed during the Clinton years. President Clinton engaged in an extramarital affair with a young intern, Monica Lewinsky, in the White House. He committed perjury and repeatedly lied to the American people. He abused his power and degraded his office. Mr. Clinton was the sex president. He was accused of sexually assaulting Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey. Juanita Broderick even claimed she was once raped by Mr. Clinton. Rather than removing him from office, Democrats - and much of the electorate - rallied behind him. The reason was simple: His moral degeneracy increasingly mirrored secular America.
For centuries, it was understood that politicians who repeatedly cheated on their wives or engaged in perverted acts were unfit to hold office. Their sexual deviancy and lack of self-restraint revealed fundamental character flaws. If a man betrays his most sacred vow - that of cherishing and honoring his wife - he cannot be trusted to properly serve his country. Licentiousness breeds corruption - sexual, moral and eventually political. It’s no coincidence that Mr. Clinton presided over the most lawless, scandal-ridden administration in memory.
Yet he survived Monicagate. Just as Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, was able to win re-election in 2010 despite being an admitted serial adulterer who frequented prostitutes. What they did was far worse than Mr. Weiner’s offense. The sexual revolution has swept away the old America - the nation our Founding Fathers believed must be rooted in Christian civilization and public morality. Today, the forces of personal liberation and hedonism dominate. Mr. Weiner may or may not weather this storm. But, sadly, Weiner Nation will live on long after he’s gone.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.