Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus found out quickly Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was nobody to underestimate, even in a case of defending actions made regarding the scandal of Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., whose ongoing Twitter photo and sext message scandal has caused great consternation within his own political party. Priebus also discovered that making statements in an ideological fight should be made when one’s remarks are defensible.
David Gregory, host of “Meet The Press,” asked Wasserman Schultz why she called for Weiner’s resignation Saturday, a move that was echoed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She noted she had given the besieged congressman time to “do the right thing, make a decision, reach the conclusion that he needed to step back, and step down on his own.” She added that, since he had not done so by Saturday, she felt the need to “weigh in.”
Priebus went on the attack, stating it was a “question of leadership” and that Weiner had turned Washington “and this country into a three-ring circus.” He added for good measure, “We’ve got leadership and a Democratic Party that are defending a guy that deserves no defense.”
Wasserman Schultz immediately went on the offensive, refusing to grant Priebus his assumed moral high ground. Stating Priebus’ statement couldn’t pass the “straight-face test,” pointing out that it came “from a chair of a party none of whose leaders called for Senator Vitter, who actually broke the law, to resign, who is still serving (in) office.”
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was involved in a scandal in 2007 where he solicited a prostitute.
But the DNC chairwoman wasn’t done. She spoke about Sen. John Ensign, who resigned in May, and his two-year affair with a campaign staffer that made national headlines. The matter has become part of a Justice Department investigation as well. “You never called for his resignation, so it’s a double standard and it’s unacceptable,” she observed.
When Gregory asked the RNC chairman for a response, he said he was not “defending these men” and quickly changed the subject to President Barack Obama and the economy.
The Weiner scandal began when a blogger Andrew Breitbart posted a racy Twitter photo of a man in bulging underwear and alleged the image to be that of the married congressman. After a week of denials, Weiner announced he had lied and that not only was the photo of him, he had sent the photo. He also admitted to sexual conversations with women outside his marriage but nothing illegal — and that he would not be resigning. Pelosi immediately called for an ethics committee investigation (characterized by Priebus as an attempt to try to save Weiner’s job).
But it was the surfacing of an explicit photo of Weiner and an investigation into the private messages sent a Delaware teen that pushed the Democratic leadership into forcefully calling for Weiner’s resignation. Several Republicans, Democrats and former DNC chairman Tim Kaine had called for his resignation earlier in the week. Kaine stated that Weiner’s lies were “unforgivable.”
Weiner announced plans to go into a psychological treatment facility Saturday, according to the Atlantic Wire, and said he would take a leave of absence from his congressional duties. It is as yet uncertain if he plans to heed the call of his Party leader, Wasserman Schultz, and resign.