White House press secretary Jay Carney informally delivered the presidential boot to New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner today while jetting down to North Carolina. “The president feels… this is a distraction, [and] as Congressman Weiner has said himself, his behavior was inappropriate, dishonesty was inappropriate,” Carney told the reporters during a campaign trip on Air Force One.
President Barack Obama’s political abandonment of the congressman adds to the increased clamor for Weiner’s resignation. In recent days, his former allies and peers in Congress have abandoned their silence and urged him to quit. So far, he shows no sign of quitting, and has won some support from his New York constituents.
Neither the president nor his congressional peers have the power to make Weiner resign, even though he has dominated media coverage of House Democrats since his lewd photos were first publicized. That coverage has frustrated the Democrats’ ability to tout their success in a recent New York special election and to push back against the GOP’s budget plans.
While issuing his statement censuring Weiner, Carney did not actually call for Weiner to resign. When asked by a reporter if Weiner should resign, Carney reiterated that the scandal was a distraction: “We think it’s a distraction from the important business that this president needs to conduct and Congress need to conduct. Beyond that I don’t have any comment.”
However, Carney made sure to add that “the president is focused on his job which is getting this economy continuing to grow, creating jobs and ensuring the safety and security of the American people.”
The president’s abandonment of Weiner leaves the congressman with even fewer friends in the Democratic Party and adds to the social pressure on him to quit.
In another hit, Carney did not deny a suggestion that White House officials may be helping organize Democrats’ increasingly loud calls for Weiner’s resignation. “Not that I’m aware of,” he said.