When San Diego voters went to the polls last fall and chose the 20-plus-year, cantankerous, out-of-touch and perhaps out-of-control congressman to be their next mayor, they knew the commodity in which they were investing.
Throughout the campaign, not to mention his previous 30 years in public office, Bob Filner proved himself to be a bully, a person who speaks without thinking and feels he has earned, as many congressmen do, a position of authority above and beyond that which is real. He is someone who yells, makes snide remarks and speaks down to almost everyone he meets — as was also evidenced throughout the campaign during debates and other public events thoroughly attended and covered by local media. All of this was known and the voters decided — “Yeah, we know he’s got issues, but we like this guy best because his policy ideas trump his personality and ego.”
So what has changed? Today, we can now add a name and face to some of the alleged complaints: Irene McCormack Jackson. And it seems that a lawsuit has been filed in relation to her allegations. But as is evidenced by Anthony Weiner’s current lead in New York mayoral polling, Eliot Spitzer’s current lead in New York city comptroller race, Gavin Newsom’s popularity post-affair and Bill Clinton’s enduring popularity despite lying under oath, among other things, Americans are not so concerned with the personal behavior of their elected officials nearly as much as they are concerned with the elected officials’ supposed policy ideas and party affiliation. Voters continue to show an overwhelming capacity for forgiveness when bad behavior, criminal or not, is exhibited.
So why would Filner resign? I mean, honestly, for several reasons he should stick this out, in my opinion. First and foremost, he won a fair and open election and has earned the position of mayor. He has not been convicted of any crime that would make him unfit and require his resignation. As someone who has fought for civil rights for all citizens, he should exercise his right to a fair and impartial hearing on any and all charges, once filed. Additionally, I would point to his age and twilight years of his career. After more than 20 years in Congress, his days of prominence are numbered. Why leave now when he can potentially redeem himself in a trial? And finally, his fiancée already left him, so what’s he got to lose at this point (aside from his salary, armed chauffeurs, control of San Diego City TV and even legal fees)? In all honesty, the perks of being mayor (and after working in the mayor’s office, I can assert there are many) far outweigh the potential negatives of a drawn-out political scandal and trial. Not to mention the potential sales of the book he will pen and peddle about the whole ordeal. Guilty or not, Filner will gain more publicity and notoriety then he ever did as a congressman.
It just doesn’t make any sense that Filner would resign, especially given his history as a fighter. I may not agree with all of Filner’s policies and I certainly do not approve of his style of management over the course of his political career. And I am in no way, shape or form condoning any alleged behavior. But I do agree he got the votes and has earned the position. He certainly shouldn’t just give it up less than a year later because of some alleged misconduct by, as of my count, one former employee. San Diegans, willfully or not, have gotten what they asked for.