Congress now has its first full-fledged sexting scandal, featuring Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and the half dozen women with whom he traded sexually explicit photos and text messages over the last three years. During Weiner's half-hour "apology-fest" press conference on Monday, he insisted that he will not step down. So, what does the future hold for the humbled New York Democrat? Here, five predictions:
1. Weiner will get a date with House ethics investigators
A "deeply disappointed and saddened" House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already called for the House Ethics Committee to look into "whether any official resources were used or any other violation of House rules occurred." And Pelosi is absolutely right to call for an ethics inquiry into Weiner's behavior, says The New York Times in an editorial, though "there is no evidence yet that he broke the law or abused the resources of his office." The Ethics Committee will probably want to talk to Weiner's "online girlfriend" Lisa Weiss, says Max Read at Gawker. She claims they had phone sex over his office phone. "Uh-oh."
2. He'll resign
Incredibly, Weiner is the second New York congressman caught flirting online with his shirt off in recent months, and ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned, says Andrew Stiles at National Review. Given that Weiner had more than just his shirt off, it's "hard to see how he can possibly ride this out." If he has "a shred of personal honor," he won't even try, says the New York Post in an editorial. After his disgraceful behavior, Weiner is "fit only for cable-TV comedy punchlines," and "he needs to quit," now.
3. The scandal will blow over
"Weiner's determination not to resign" is actually quite "reasonable," says Ben Smith at Politico. If recent sex (and sex-related) scandals have taught us anything, it's that "while they may burn hotter in the contemporary media, they also burn out faster." Yes, please ignore the "near-unanimous agreement among the cable talkers that his political career is finished," says Hendrik Hertzberg at The New Yorker. The huge "modern media embarrassment machine" has raised the bar on scandals, and for my money, Weiner will still "be around for quite a while."
4. Weiner won't resign, but he'll lose his bite
The liberal New Yorker may be able to ride this out, but will he really want to? asks Steve Kornacki at Salon. For 13 years, he's mostly been using his congressional seat to informally run for mayor of New York City, and, more recently, "play the role of wisecracking, Republican-bashing cable news all-star." After his sexting fiasco, he won't be mayor and he can't pull off his schtick as the "somewhat holier-than-thou liberal" from "the 'fighting wing' of his party." That means if he does stay in Congress, he'll be "an incredibly bored man."
5. He'll be ousted in 2012
Whether Weiner stays in office "may not be his decision to make," says John Ellis at Business Insider. He represents a district that "has been trending Republican," and more ominously for him, state lawmakers could redistrict his seat out of existence, especially if they decide he's "political roadkill." Weiner can only convince voters that he is worthy of their support — a daunting task in itself — if he can first persuade Albany not to make his district disappear.