11 March 2008

New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's Hypocrisy (regarding prostitution)

Well by now the blogosphere is filled with articles and opinions and what not about the revelation of New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer being linked to a high-priced (at $5,500/hour, I would nominate this description as understatement of the year) prostitution ring that was recently busted by United States federal authorities. Take, for instance, this latest piece by The New York Times:
The idea that Gov. Eliot Spitzer — the square-jawed crusader who promised to bring ethics to Albany, the former prosecutor who chased corruption on Wall Street so ferociously that people nicknamed him Eliot Ness — was somehow involved in a prostitution scandal was too much. New Yorkers who thought they had heard everything were, for a change, dumbfounded.

They had trouble folding their minds around what law enforcement officials said was contained in a federal affidavit — that Mr. Spitzer, identified only as “Client 9,” had arranged for a high-priced prostitute to meet him in Washington on the night before Valentine’s Day.
The are reports that The New York Times, which worked diligently to break the story about New York State Governor Spitzer's connections with the ring of debauchery, tried its best to "spin the story as favourably as they could for a Democrat." However, even the New York Times article is quite scathing of Governor Spitzer's conduct. And why shouldn't it be?

Personally, I don't have a problem with prostitution (I think it should be legal and regulated and could be used as a source of revenue from "sin taxes" that can be applied thereto). And quite frankly, after the whole President Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky debacle in the 1990s, I've pretty much thought that politicians are now insulated from their "personal" actions, which they always say had been a grievous mistake, an error in judgment, a failing of their own personal morality, etc. As such, I'd long-ago given up on the notion that top law enforcement official(s) of a municipalities are automatically immune from the laws for which they have been elected to enforce?

So why am I so perturbed at this latest political scandal? The answer to this is contained in this single word: hypocrisy.

To be certain, the case of NYS Governor Spitzer is somewhat unique, and yet not so unique. But first, let's look at why it's unique, and why it has shocked us un-shockable New Yorkers:

Though his signature issue was pursuing Wall Street misdeeds, as attorney general Mr. Spitzer also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force.

In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island.

“This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multi-tiered management structure,” Mr. Spitzer said at the time. “It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring."

For me, I think this quote in the recent New York Times article sums it up best:

“He’s pulled a lot of people through the mud, and look what he’s done,” said Ben Clarke, who works for a technology company that counts Wall Street firms as clients. Sipping red wine at Harry’s Cafe on Hanover Square, Mr. Clarke added, “The hypocrisy is incredible.”

So you see, Attorney General, and gubernatorial candidate Spitzer periodically proselytized over and over and the evils and ills of prostitution. Why, then, would he engage in the very acts he has, for years, condemned?

As I previously mentioned, Governor Spitzer's case is unique yet, at the same time, not so unique. Governor Spitzer now finds himself in exactly the same position as such great political heroes as:

U.S. Senator Larry Craig

U.S. Congressman Ed Schrock

Washington State Representative Richard Curtis

There are probably others but I can't find them at the moment or recall who they are (I'll edit this list at some point in the future once some people I've contacted to help fill in this list get back to me).

By the way, if Governor Spitzer refuses to resign and brought to an impeachment trial (and subsequently impeached), it wouldn't be the first time in the history of New York State.

I should point out this breaking news article, which exemplifies just why this level of hypocrisy does, and should, bring one's blood to a boiling point.

While I disagree with a certain aspect of his politics, kudos to New York State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, for doing and saying the right thing and not using this moment for political advantage, which is something that most politicians wouldn't think twice about doing:
Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate Republican leader who had a fractious relationship with Mr. Spitzer, said he felt “very badly for the governor’s wife, for his children.”
For you conspiracy theorists out there: this is a plot by the conservative right-wing (a/k/a the religious right), as Governor Spitzer has recently voiced his support and advocated for same-sex marriage rights in New York State--stating that he would introduce such legislation in the near future--to discredit him and force him out of office so as to prevent such legislation from being introduced into the legislature by him.

On a personal note, it boggles my mind that this latest scandal still leaves people wondering why I'm such a raving cynic, especially with respect to U.S. Presidential Candidate/Senator Barack Obama's "Change" campaign. :p

Finally, let's all take a moment of silence out of respect for the passing of Governor Spitzer's political career...

[Updated 7:00am 11 March 2008]Think of it this way, what Spitzer did would be akin to Rudy Guliani running off and doing business with the mob. Think about it. It just makes no sense, no sense at all. And, as one of my friends told me, "He's the frikkin Governor of New York--I'm sure he could have gotten a woman, any woman, without having to pay for it? Why would he be so stupid as to think he had to pay for it?" But then, paying for something connotes a certain meaning, n'est-ce pas?

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