Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011, at 3:26 PM
We're at that stage of the scandal: Entering "treatment," without seeing what the treatment is for. The statement from Anthony Weiner's office:
Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well. Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.
All right. What did Weiner say on Monday?
This is not something that can be treated away; this is my own personal mistake.
A "leave of absence" means he's not resigning and Democrats will continue 1) being asked if they want him out and 2) saying yes. His leader in the House and the chairwoman of his party have now called for him to go , and it's hard to imagine either statement coming if the White House hadn't decided to wish Weiner into the cornfield.
What happened in the last 24 hours to change this? Fox News, which had a reporter on scene with a 17-year old woman who had been contacted by Weiner, was there when police arrived at her house to question her about it. The age of consent in Delaware is 16, and the contact allegedly happened two months ago. But we don't know what the contact was. Weiner's office is saying it was not indecent , but not releasing the DMs to reporters who've asked. (I have only very recently asked myself. I'm very, very wary about the privacy of this woman.)
We don't know much about the 17-year old. We do know that Weiner did not "know the ages of the women" he contacted, and that the inappropriate contacts -- according to him -- only extended to six people. That was enough to make this story go nuclear last night, with TV networks running the bare details in a way that looked totally unsurvivable.