The Political Zombies Who Walk The Halls Of Congress Political scandals don't always kill the participants. Some survive. Some give up the ghost. Some whose careers have died keep on going.
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Zombies Walk The Halls Of Congress

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Zombies Walk The Halls Of Congress

Zombies Walk The Halls Of Congress

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

This just in: There's zombies in the U.S. Capitol. Not the kind that pop out of graves, a different kind of undead the undead political career. This week, New York congressman Anthony Weiner said he is staying put, even if some of his fellow Democrats publicly call on him to resign.

As NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports, Representative Weiner isn't the first politician accused of serious ethics violations to try to revive his seemingly dead career.

ANDREA SEABROOK: So in this contrived scenario, there are three categories of congressional zombies: those who survived a scandal to live again; those who are wounded by scandal but stay in Congress - those are the real zombies - and then of course, there are those who hung on for a while but eventually, got buried.

Let's start with the survivors.

Representative BARNEY FRANK (Democrat, Massachusetts): Never has the willingness of the minority to abuse the process for purely political ends been clearer than today.

(Soundbite of scattered applause, boos)

Rep. FRANK: Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Speaker: Does whining come out of my time?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: Barney Frank of Massachusetts. These days, he's more often thought of as the Democrats' quick-witted bulldog, and Congress's first openly gay member. That's a testament to his ability to revive his career.

In July of 1990, Frank was censured on the floor of the House for fixing 33 parking tickets for a gay male prostitute who lived with Frank in the middle 1980s. The prostitute continued to see clients in Frank's apartment, though Frank claims he had no knowledge of that.

Other survivors? There's California Democrat Maxine Waters. During the fiscal meltdown, she arranged a meeting with the Treasury Department for a bank her husband owned stock in.

And the classic example? Ted Kennedy. He survived scandal to become the lion of the Senate.

Now let's turn to the real zombies the ones who are so wounded by scandal that even though they stay in the Capitol, they walk the halls like the living dead, always under an ethical cloud.

Representative CHARLIE RANGEL (Democrat, New York): I love my country; I love my Congress. I love the debates, I love the arguments.

SEABROOK: New York Democrat Charlie Rangel.

Rep. RANGEL: But you're not going to tell me to resign to make you feel comfortable.

SEABROOK: Rangel got a pretty hard slap on the wrist from the House Ethics Committee, after he was found to have income and investments that he had not disclosed as well as other violations.

Another zombie? Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter.

Senator DAVID VITTER (Republican, Louisiana): I want to again offer my deep, sincere apologies to all those I have let down and disappointed with these actions from my past.

SEABROOK: Vitter was a client of a Washington prostitution ring. He was never charged because the news came out beyond the statute of limitations. Two of Vitter's calls to the madam were made during votes on the floor. After he apologized in 2007, he neatly won a second term in the Senate.

Now, you could argue that Rangel and Vitter aren't zombies after all, they survived. But, says Charlie Cook...

Mr. CHARLIE COOK (Cook Political Report): You know, survival is a low bar.

SEABROOK: Cook has covered Washington for 39 years, and runs the Cook Political Report. He says of Vitter...

Mr. COOK: Will he ever move up into the Republican leadership? No. Will Charlie Rangel, if Democrats took over control of the House, would he become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee? No.

SEABROOK: Now, lastly, let's consider the many lawmakers who tried hard to stay, but watched their careers flat-line.

There's Idaho Republican Larry Craig, the one with the wide stance in the Minneapolis airport bathroom.

Senator LARRY CRAIG (Republican, Idaho): I am not gay. I never have been gay.

SEABROOK: And Republican Mark Foley, who flirted via text with teenage congressional pages.

Then there's the Jack Abramoff scandal, which lead to the indictment of House Republican Leader Tom DeLay, and the conviction of Ohio Republican Bob Ney. That's the guy who changed French fries to freedom fries. Ney spent a year and a half in prison, after which he told a movie producer...

Representative BOB NEY (Republican, Ohio): Probably ought to be mandatory that federal judges and members of Congress, people who want to be members of Congress, serve in the prison first, then go do your job. Things might change.

SEABROOK: Things might change.

Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, Washington.

SIMON: And you can take a look at our Name That Scandal quiz on our website,

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