Weiner’s self-absorbed style has been evident on the Hill as well. Although he regularly socializes after-hours and spends time on the House floor with other Northeast lawmakers, he is a loner. Weiner, a liberal Democrat, even opted against joining other left-leaning Members in the Progressive Caucus.
He has never been considered a loyalist to either Pelosi or Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Instead, he has switched allegiances based on the circumstances surrounding a political debate.
Weiner has also not shied away from blasting fellow Democrats. Behind closed doors, he is notorious for his criticism of moderates in his party, as well as leaders he views as not progressive enough.
In September 2009, Weiner lashed out at Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) and his proposal to overhaul the health care system, charging that of all the plans put forth it “fails the most miserably” in controlling costs and insuring the poor.
Late last year, Weiner also rallied progressives against the tax deal President Barack Obama cut with House Republicans. Doing so put him at odds with Democratic leaders who stood behind the president. The New York Democrat ultimately deferred to Obama’s proposal, but only after attending a meeting in the then-Speaker’s office with other disgruntled liberals.
Democratic aides said his problems working with others have extended even to his staff, which has had significant turnover.
“I used to help people get jobs in his office, provide a reference and whatnot. But I stopped a few years back, once I realized they only lasted a year or less,” a senior Democratic Senate aide said Friday.
Weiner is a demanding boss, Democrats said. He often ignores his staff’s advice, forcing them to scramble to keep up.
Nowhere is that dynamic more evident than in how he handles the press. Weiner has long been a fixture on cable news shows. And he rarely — if ever — shies away from an opportunity to comment on something.
But that confidence has not always served him well, most notably during his rambling press conference last week when he acknowledged his online behavior.
“He’s always thought he was his best press secretary. Which is never a smart thing to do,” said Jim Manley, former senior communications adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
On a more substantive level, Weiner’s ladder-climbing approach to Congress has translated into having an extremely loyal following on the left but no legislative accomplishments to speak of. Weiner was a champion of the single-payer system during the health care fight, but that proposal never made it into law.
However, Weiner was able to persuade Republicans to incorporate his proposal to end a moleskin manufacturers’ subsidy into the continuing resolution this year.
On the fundraising side, he hasn’t made any friends at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He did not meet his $200,000 dues requirement in 2010. In the runup to the elections, Weiner had given only $40,000 to the party effort, according to an Oct. 29 dues sheet. He did raise or contribute an additional $177,600 for Frontline and Red to Blue candidates and raised almost $88,000 for the DCCC. Notably, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (Pa.), chairwoman of recruitment and candidate services for the DCCC, was the first House Democratic leader to call for his resignation last week.