The Eliot Spitzer Scandal
First off, there is no evidence whatsoever as I write this that what Spitzer has done constitutes corruption. It IS hypocricy, arrogance, stupidity and, probably, illegal. But there is no evidence of political favors or use of taxpayer money in the process. Nor even abuse of power. I could dismiss it as beyond the scope of this blog if I wished. But that wouldn't quite be right. Because of the monumental stupidity and possible illegality, and because Spitzer's scandal may end for now the reform of Albany, I do feel the need to comment. Spitzer is part of what is wrong with government in America and I need to criticize him for what he has done.
But we have to keep things in perspective. Spitzer may have been hypocritical and stupid, but what he did is NOTHING compared with the rampant Republican corruption, Republican hypocricy, Republican Racism, and, yes, even Republican pedophilia. Yes, pedophilia. The MANY cases of pedophilia committed by right wing Republicans is astonishing, yet doesn't get the same coverage by the media and right wing noise machine like Fox News that Clinton's blow job and Spitzer's scandal gets. And yet there are far more Republican pedophiles out there and the vast majority of Americans certainly think pedophilia is worse than hiring a prostitute. Corruption, hypocircy, racism and even pedophilia seem rampant among Republicans...yet we don't hear as much about that from the right wing media.
Keeping that perspective in mind, I am not surprised that Spitzer has been brought down by his own arrogance. I was never a strong Spitzer supporter. I mean from the start. When he decided to run for Governor, many of my political allies were thrilled. For awhile I heard nothing but glowing odes to the man. I felt uncomfortable about him though, and continued to feel uncomfortable. There was always an arrogance around Spitzer that bothered me.
There was the State Convention here in NY State. The 2006 NY State Democratic Convention was a disgusting, nasty farce. The assumption that Spitzer would be nominated for Governor and Cuomo nominated for Attorney General was taken to such an extreme that delegates to the convention who I personally know were told not to deliver proxy votes for candidates opposing Spitzer or Cuomo. They were told if they did deliver votes against Spitzer or Cuomo, they would face primary challenges as punishment. Somehow Spitzer didn't catch much blame for this. Cuomo came in for far more ire. But to me Spitzer must have been part of the nastiness of the convention.
Going along with that kind of un-democratic tactics that the State Convention saw was Spitzer's ties to some elements from the unsavory Brooklyn Democratic machine, a machine I have written about before on this site. Carl Andrews, right hand man to now convicted Clarence Norman, is a political ally of Spitzer's. That always rubbed me wrong. How could Spitzer tolerate ties with the Brooklyn machine given its corruption?
Of course there is the flip side. Spitzer is a force to be reckoned with and that is precisely what we needed in Albany. Albany, particularly the Republicans, but the Dems too, has been dysfunctional for years. We need someone with balls to clean up Albanay. And Spitzer is certainly known for standing up to some very powerful, big money interests, though he does seem favorably disposed to developers, even highly dubious characters like Bruce Ratner. But I did have some hope his arrogance would indeed be what was needed to clear the political constipation in Albany.
Bottom line was I was happy he got elected, but wondered what we'd get.
The elation many felt never turned into anything. Spitzer went to Albany and stumbled. The State Legislature is a mess and needs to be stood up to, but Spitzer managed to alienate even allies and reformers in the State Legistlature by largely dictating rather than working with legislators. Now had he succeeded, I'd be the first to congratulate him, I admit. But his arrogance didn't help in the end.
I got the feeling that rather than replacing the dysfunctional "three men in a room" system that has been running Albany under the Pataki-Bruno-Silver axis of political constipation with a truely effective, reform state government, Spitzer wanted government by one man in a room as long as that one person was himself.
Now the prostitute scandal. The arrogance of being the big, tough broom that cleans all before it, then waltzing into an elite brothel charging something like a fifth of a year's salary for the average American for one hour of something most of us don't need to pay for.
Now, it wasn't as awful as the Mark Foley pedophilia that Republicans like Hastert covered up and defended (and some Republicans STILL defend!). And he didn't use taxpayer money to get his thrill the way Giuliani did. And he didn't pull that other Giuliani trick, forcing cops to walk the dog while he was stupping. But it was abyssmal stupidity and hypocricy.
Spitzer's arrogance has in essence led to about the worst series of fumbles I could imagine being made.
If he stays on, I hope he has learned some important lessons. He isn't getting anywhere this way. I don't think he has to resign unless he really did break the law. I don't care, really, if Spitzer stupped a slut. What I do care about is the stupidity and arrogance of his actions.
If he resigns, I for one will welcome Governor Paterson. I suspect at this point Paterson has more of a chance to get things done than Spitzer, at least in the near term. Maybe a year from now this will seem like nothing, but for now reform in New York is dead in the water because Spitzer couldn't keep his pants on.