Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Several of you have written to ask why I haven't commented on the Spitzer imbroglio. One email declared, a little testily, that if I would just read the lamestream media I'd find out all about this outrageous story.

Well, I'm not ignorant of it at all. In fact, my own impression was that the story was considerably over-reported in both the lamestream media (who really ought to be ashamed that they haven't taken on Spitzer far prior to this affair) and in the blogosphere, so there was little need for me to add my two cents worth (but then, that's never stopped me before!). Also, my personal reaction is complicated, and a little difficult to speak to.

My overriding reaction is to be saddened by the whole tawdry affair. To have New York and the entire country dragged through Spitzer's tittilating sex life is not my idea of American politics. And a recurring sad theme is the impact of all this on his wife and children.

But many other sub-themes are at play here as well:
  • The businessman in me wants blood. Not in particular because of Spitzer's dalliance; that's just a means to an end. My inner businessman wants blood because Spitzer has been, for years, a sanctimonious self-serving bully, perfectly willing to shake down honest corporate managers for his own purposes (justice not amongst them). This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to take the evil bully down.

  • My libertarian leanings have me pondering why prostitution is still illegal in most of the U.S. It's a fairly pure case of government interfering in commerce between two consenting adults, and it's very well established that the criminalization of prostitution is (a) not reducing the incidence, and (b) not helping the prostitutes. Furthermore, as Michael Barone eloquently points out, for the most part, in most places (and certainly in New York), prostitution is generally not prosecuted as a crime. This selective prosecution opens the door for abuse – no matter what I think of Eliot Spitzer (and what I think is most definitely not positive!), I wouldn't wish him to be prosecuted for a crime that other citizens wouldn't be.

  • As an always-curious American male, I'd really, really like to know just what in the hell makes a hooker worth $5,500 an hour?!? I'll bet more than a few women would like to know that, too. And why on earth did Spitzer feel the need to import a hooker from New York to hooker central (aka Washington, D.C.)?

  • My inner judge is frustrated that Spitzer is going down for something insignificant and essentially meaningless, when he has committed many real crimes that have destroyed the lives and fortunes of honest American citizens. Instead, he has mostly been lauded in the lamestream media for his hard-charging attacks on successful American businesses for, well, being successful American businesses.

  • My inner criminal prosecutor wants to know why Spitzer prosecuted some prostitution organizations, while simultaneously frequenting another. Was there some quid pro quo here? Perhaps a rate reduction from his favored supplier in exchange for taking out the competition? Also, did Spitzer (a very wealthy man) pay full boat for services rendered? Or did he enjoy a discount in return for laying off the prosecution?

  • There is an enjoyable aspect of watching Spitzer wriggle: the irony of him being caught by law enforcement using a technique that Spitzer himself pioneered – the search for “structuring” (the arrangement of financial affairs in pursuit of a criminal enterprise).

  • Watching Spitzer's wife stand beside him at his public apology was agonizing, raising painful thoughts of how their children would have to deal with. It also provoked a ponder. Could I imagine my own wife, in similar circumstances, doing the same thing? No. In fact, in similar circumstances I would never have the opportunity to apologize, because I would be dead. Most likely, I'd have been tortured for days in secret until I expired, after which my body would be chopped into bite-sized pieces and fed to the coyotes. By my wife. With a smile. We've seen the supportive political wife so many times in recent years – what is it with these people? It seems like they live in a completely different world than most Americans I know...
As I write this, the press is reporting that Spitzer will most likely resign today. I certainly hope so...

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