Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Nearly three weeks after Rep. Anthony Weiner tweeted a photo of his bulging crotch, his final act as congressman was to attempt to resign with dignity.
Instead, heckling and catcalls disrupted his news conference, creating a noisy, circus-like atmosphere that overshadowed the main event. It was an ungracious end, a fitting metaphor for the troubled congressman's career.
Weiner had gone from the halls of Congress to the front pages of the New York tabloids, providing ceaseless fodder as cringe-worthy evidence of his sexually charged online dalliances leaked out and top Democrats pushed for his resignation.
On Thursday afternoon, the 46-year-old struck a sober tone at the podium of the senior center in Brooklyn where he launched a campaign for City Council in 1992. He stood alone; his pregnant wife, Huma Abedin, remained at home while he officially ended the only career he has ever known.
But like other developments in the tawdry drama, the press conference was marked by profanity and low-brow antics. After recounting the beginning of his political career and proclaiming that there is "no higher honor" than to represent one's neighbors, he said he initially hoped to continue his work but then realized "the distraction that I have created has made that impossible." With that, he apologized and resigned.
The seniors, many of them former supporters, groaned. Some in the room cheered. One man yelled: "Buh-bye, pervert!"
Another jumped up seconds later and began to shout questions about the congressman's genitals. The din in the room reached a crescendo as dozens of cameras pivoted, reporters gasped and some of the seniors shouted for the man to sit down.
Weiner grew slightly flushed but continued speaking. A police officer approached and told him to quiet down for the remainder of Weiner's remarks, which lasted just under four minutes. As the congressman left the podium, the heckler bellowed: "Will you maintain your hot physique and your smooth sexy chest?"
The man behind it turned out to be a writer for the Howard Stern Show named Benjy Bronk.
Many of the spectators said the episode was a startling finale for the once-promising hometown politician whose district includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
"It was pathetic and sad," said online publisher Binyamin Jolkovsky, 42. "A guy built a career, made it three-fourths of the way up the hill and then it all collapses."
Known as brash, liberal and ambitious, the seven-term congressman had run for mayor of New York in 2005 and had been expected to do so again. He had raised $4 million in campaign funds so far.
On Thursday, he hinted that he would somehow stay involved in public life.
"I got into politics to help give voice to the many that simply did not have one," he said. "Now I'll be looking for other ways to contribute my talents to make sure that we live up to that most New York and American of ideals: the idea that leading a family, a community and ultimately a country is the one thing that all unites us, the one thing we're all focused on."
He did not take questions.
Democratic Party leaders, concerned that Weiner could weigh the party down in the 2012 elections, had welcomed the announcement after days spent trying to coax, push and finally coerce the wayward politician into quitting.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has the authority to call a special election to fill the seat once the congressman submits his resignation. However, because of population shifts, New York state is to lose two House seats in 2013, and lawmakers may target Weiner's former district. His replacement could get a job that ends in just 19 months.
- No national launch for Draft Mitt effort
- NTSB: Plane that crashed in Arizona killing...
- GOP: Lois Lerner's IRS emails show bias...
- Witnesses at Utah trial: No security-camera...
- Ginsburg: High court won't 'duck' gay marriage
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit against Obama
- The rise of social entrepreneurship: How...
- Probe exposes flaws behind HealthCare.gov...
- US Court: Virginia marriage is for all... 52
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the... 46
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit... 36
- GOP: Lois Lerner's IRS emails show bias... 28
- Most Americans believe the U.S. should... 27
- House leaders abandon border bill 18
- GOP-led House approves lawsuit against... 14
- Democrats have million-dollar day on... 13