"There is life after Congress for Anthony Weiner," New York Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey grimly assured reporters on Thursday before his resignation announcement. But Weiner's life has been nothing but Congress. Nothing but government. Nothing but taxpayer-subsidized self-perpetuation. In other words: the life of a pathetic public leech.
Amid vulgar heckling brought on by his own reckless behavior and smug jokes, Weiner told reporters at his three-ring press conference that there is "no higher honor in a democracy" than to be an elected representative. But like legions of entrenched swamp creatures, he's lost sight of the simple proposition that serving in Congress should remain a temporary calling, not a lifelong career.
Last year, the now-jobless Weiner joked on former roommate Jon Stewart's cable comedy show that he didn't "have a lot of marketable skills." It's one of Weiner's rare truthful utterances over the past year. A protege of fossilized New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Weiner has spent the past 20 years in politics -- straight out of college to the present. Through seven consecutive congressional terms, he has stridently advocated job-killing policies in the name of the working class, about which this ruling-class elitist knows nothing.
Potomac Fever is a bipartisan disease, of course. And the Founding Fathers were rightly concerned about its corrupting consequences. At Virginia's ratifying convention in 1788, George Mason made the case for a citizen legislature grounded in reality: "Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens."
But make no mistake: Weiner has no plans of toiling among the masses. This week's resignation speech sounded like a future campaign kick-off: "I'll be looking for other ways to contribute my talents," he signaled, "so that we live up to that most New York and American of ideals. The ideal that a family, a community and, ultimately, a country is the one thing that unites us. The one thing that we're all focused on. With God's help and with hard work, we will all be successful."
How, exactly, is a serial liar who antagonized his own liberal media allies by calling them "jackasses," who countenanced libelous attacks on conservative bloggers and who threw his own family under the bus to save his political hide in a position to "unite" us all? And what, pray tell, are these "talents" of which he speaks?
A lucky beneficiary of the New York Democratic political machinery, Weiner has no law degree. He has no business background. No private-sector proficiencies to pay the bills. And no hands-on experience -- other than the R-rated kind, that is.
When not anchored to Twitter scoping out fawning young groupies or snapping BlackBerry photos of himself at the House gym, Weiner served faithfully as one of liberalism's loudest mouths opposing entitlement and debt reform. Meanwhile, he locked in his public pension and racked up hefty private credit-card bills. (Financial disclosure forms show he owes some $15,000 on an annual salary of less than $200,000.) He married another career political servant, Clinton intimate Huma Abedin, who has worked in government since taking on a White House internship in 1996.
Now, they are expecting a child -- and he is counting on the Beltway/Big Apple revolving door to put food on the table. History, alas, is on his side. The incumbency racket eternally rewards big spenders and big redistributors of collective wealth.
Among all the other sordid lessons Weiner-gate has taught us, it has reminded us that the progressive notion of "public service" is really private-job protectionism on the public's dime.