Yesterday at 2PM, Rep. Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from Congress following revelations that he sent lewd texts to women he met over the internet. The move comes after nearly every prominent Democrat — from Leader Nancy Pelosi to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to President Obama — called on Weiner to step down.
Nevertheless, the chairman of the GOP, Reince Preibus, attacked Democrats for inaction, saying, “We’ve got leadership and a Democratic Party that are defending a guy that deserves no defense.”
Today’s events stand in stark contrast to the treatment of Senator David Vitter, who admitted in 2007 to being a regular customer of a notorious prostitution service. Immediately following Vitter’s admission, McConnell was asked about Vitter on ABC News and flatly refused to address the issue or offer any criticism of Vitter’s conduct:
ROBERTS: Are you comfortable with him staying in the Republican Caucus?
MCCONNELL: Senator Vitter has addressed the issue that you’re referring to, and I’ll let him speak to that.
ROBERTS: Right. Is this something that you think he can recover from? I mean, does the Republican Party, the Republicans in Congress take a hit because of this?
MCCONNELL: Well, you’ll have to ask Senator Vitter about what he had to say about the episode that I think you’re referring to. He would be the one to address that.
McConnell wasn’t alone. Gannett reported that “few colleagues would go on record” following Vitter’s admission. One who did, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), offered only praise: “David Vitter is one of the most capable guys here. He was fabulous in the immigration debate. I think his constituents will respect that.” When Vitter returned to the Senate a few days later and addressed the GOP caucus, he was warmly received:
Applause could be heard inside the room. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who like most members wouldn’t disclose what Vitter said, reported that his comments went over well.
“People were very supportive,” Thune said. “People realize he has worked through this this past week. I think everybody is ready to move forward.”[...]
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, exemplified the forgive-and-forget view voiced by Senate Republicans.
“My attitude is he’s doing everything he can to rectify the mistake he made and should be allowed to do so,” Hatch said. “I’m a great believer in redemption.”
Despite moral transgressions that are more serious, from a legal perspective, than what is known of Weiner’s conduct, Vitter remains in the Senate with full seniority and committee memberships. When asked about Vitter’s potential legal violations, his GOP colleagues claimed ignorance of the law.
To this day, RNC chair Reince Preibus refuses to discuss Vitter’s conduct saying he doesn’t want to “relitigate” the situation.