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Sex scandals draw ire of Dem party elders

 

Wherever Anthony Weiner goes on the streets of New York these days, he's surrounded by reporters, microphones and cameras - a crush that would ordinarily signal intense interest in a surging campaign. For the beleaguered Weiner, it portends his likely demise.

But he presses on, despite the loss of his campaign manager, blunt face-to-face criticism from tough New Yorkers, and a new Quinnipiac University poll showing him in fourth place. "I'm taking a bet basically that people are more interested in hearing solutions to their problems than hearing about things in my background,” he told one reporter Monday. “And we'll see if that's the case."

Even his wife, in her loyalty to her husband, is now being criticized for risking the presidential hopes of her mentor, Hillary Clinton.

In a “Today” appearance Monday morning, NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell said, "This is getting to the point where it is really splashing up against the Clintons because it's almost unavoidable that people are making comparisons."

In a broader sense, the Weiner sex scandal, coupled with those of San Diego mayor Bob Filner and New York comptroller candidate, Eliot Spitzer, now compose a trio of targets for Democratic Party elders -- who are visibly growing weary of the scandals. Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "The conduct of some of these people that we're talking about here is reprehensible, is so disrespectful of women."

On Sunday's “Meet the Press,” David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, said of Weiner, "He is not going to be the next mayor of New York, he is wasting time and space."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein on CNN's “State of the Union” was equally critical of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. "I don't think that somebody who is lacking a moral compass really sets a role model or really will provide the kind of leadership that San Diegans want," she said.

That combined criticism for three of the party's heavy hitters represents a sea change from what some believe is a scandal double-standard.

"I do think there is a double standard," Karl Rove told Fox News on Monday. "If a Republican is involved in a sex scandal, it's used to depict the entire party as hypocritical because it's a party of traditional family values. When Dems do this kind of stuff,  it's general entertainment and in some instances a basis for getting them back into politics," he said.

There are cases of Republicans who have survived sex scandals. South Carolina's former governor Mark Sanford won a congressional seat this term after being censured when he admitted to a secret affair. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter also survived marital  indiscretions. Even Bible Belt Republican Congressman Dan Burton, who admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock, was re-elected to seven terms before retiring.

But political redemption requires penance. Scandal survivors have some traits in common -- a willingness to admit their faults, and to seek forgiveness, or psychological help. Denial doesn't work, especially in New York, where the concentration of tabloid media is an unrelenting obstacle to resurrecting one’s political career.

Doug McKelway joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 and serves as a Washington-based correspondent.

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