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Spitzer Redux


 My recent article on why Eliot Spitzer shouldn't resign as Governor of New York engendered some criticism in a small newsgroup that I'm a member of. Here are some of their comments, anonymized to protect the innocent, and my responses:

Mr. A writes:

That's odd, I never have a bit of a problem living up to my personal standards, wonder why guys like Spitzer do.  Perhaps it's because the standards they say and the ones they actually practice (the REAL standards) aren't the same.  I always wonder about these guys in political office doing this stuff, have they learned nothing from all the people who have fallen for this?  Are their urges simply too powerful to ignore or do they just think they are not going to get caught?

I responded:

A bit of both, I think. Everybody (pretty much) likes sex, likes different kinds of sex with different people (whether or not they choose to actually do so), and most sex is still pretty private, since even though the media is fairly "sex-saturated," people rarely talk about *their own* sexual activities -- and if they do, they often lie about them. So I'm hardly surprised that a guy in a position of power with a shitload of money to fling around if he wants -- his family made it BIG in real estate, from what I understand -- would hire a prostitute at roughly $2500 per hour to do pretty much anything he wanted with her (including, if I read the FBI agent's affidavit correctly, sex without a condom) (which is still a Bad Thing). And he did it in D.C. -- no one's yet reported whether he was there on business, or just to fuck the woman -- where he figured he was at less risk of being caught, little realizing that the IRS had targeted the escort service because they'd been moving suspiciously large sums of money around.

And yeah, there's little doubt that the standards he claims to have had but violated and his *real* standards are two very different things.

Mr. A writes: 

Spitzer's problem is that his whole career is based on being the holier-than-thou, anti-corruption crime fighter.  This makes it as big a hypocrisy as the Pubs caught cheating, or being caught gay, after taking right wing stands on family values and passing judgement on others.

I responded:

From what I've read previously, Spitzer was a damned good Attorney General, and put a lot of bad people out of business and/or in jail. The trouble has ALWAYS been that sex is too easy to prosecute: The religious give you major kudos for doing it, and nobody but people like me suggest it's a bad idea, that the laws against prostitution are bad, and that his time could be better spent prosecuting even more crooked Wall Streeters. So for him, there was no down-side to busting escort services -- which often do have "organized crime" connections -- and besides, it was probably a good source of contacts for him for when he wanted to hire an escort himself.

**

Mr. A writes:


And, according to that article you sent out earlier, the religious right were out to get him too.  Which makes what he did incredibly stupid.

I responded:

For "stupid," substitute "human."

**

Mr. A writes:

<<Mr. B wrote:
 
Spitzer's Folly: How Could He Think He'd Get Away with It?
By Chris Kelly, Huffington Post
It took a rare combination of arrogance, amorality and shit for brains>>

Someone who agrees with me on Spitzer's stupidity.

I responded:

Someone (or two) who's accepted and reinforced the Christian view of sexual behavior.

**

Mr. C writes:


Mr. Spitzer did not seem to understand on Monday what he owed the
public - a strong argument for why he should be trusted again.

I responded:

HE PAID FOR HOOKERS! If that's the criterion for untrustworthiness, most of Washington and all the state legislatures had better think about getting out of town quick!

**

Mr. C writes:

Up to 80K for hookers? And apparently he patronized these brothels
while prosecuting others for doing so in connection with his
investigations.

Jesus. This guy has issues.

I responded:

Besides being horny? Plus, I wouldn't take the 80K as gospel (as they say).

**

Ms. D writes:


<< Mr. C wrote:
>
> Reports are he and his wife are not speaking.>>
 
Especially with the revelation that he liked to do it without condoms.
What a pig.

I responded:

Hey, in that price range, he'd be more likely to give something to the hooker than she would be to him.

**

Mr. A writes:

What I don't get is why these wives always appear with their husbands
at the podium when they are confessing.  If it was me I'd tell her she
was on her own with that one.

I responded:

You understand we're only minutes away from comparing Spitzer's situation with his wife, to Bill Clinton and his.

**

Mr. A writes:

It's so annoying to watch the right wingers respond to this, they are
like rabid dogs.  The Republican leader of New York's legislation is
calling for impeachment if he doesn't resign by Thursday, and yet no
pub called for Vitter's resignation and he didn't resign.  I thought
he should resign and Spitzer should too, and he did this morning.

I responded:

Sexual indiscretions are one of the LEAST reasons someone should resign from public office. Everybody has sex (except some fundies); everyone lies about it (even the fundies). While I think couples should be completely honest with each other about their sexual desires and history, our culture doesn't encourage or support that, and that's why situations like this occur. This is truly a "blame the culture" moment.

**

Mr. A writes:

Under his circumstances doing anything other than living a squeaky clean life is stupid.  To go as far as he did is amazingly stupid.  It's the equivalent of jumping off the Empire State building and expecting to bounce when you hit bottom, and it's pointless to complain because you don't like gravity.

I responded:

The "inevitability" of someone's career being over because they fucked a prostitute or two is clearly false; see David Vitter and Larry Craig. Spitzer's best course of action would simply be to soldier on, ignore the press reports, and sooner or later it would all go away ... or at least come to be accepted that he was a flawed person who was doing a relatively good job as governor (which he was). Even the fact that he was a hypocrite about the whole thing wouldn't matter in the long run, as long as he didn't try to bust NYC's burgeoning bordello/escort industry.

It's fascinating that you put political scandals and their *possible* outcomes in the same league with gravity.

BTW, I think Glenn Greenwald agrees with me:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/03/12/prostitution/index.htm

**

Mr. A writes:

It's not about the sex, it's about the hypocrisy.

I responded:

So your argument -- seriously! -- is that because he prosecuted escort agencies in the past, and now has been found to have been using one, he should resign??? The time to call for his resignation on that one was when, as Attorney General, he busted the escorts -- who have every moral (If not legal) right to practice their profession -- in the first place!

**

Mr. E writes:

Well hey, just because there are people that are out to get you doesn't
give you a get-out-of-jail-free card when you commit a crime.

I responded:

That would be a "crime" he hasn't yet been charged with.

And which, of course, shouldn't be a crime in any case.

**

Mr. B writes:

You can bet he won't share her bed again, if he ever has in the last few years.

I responded:

One thing I've learned about humans is, making bets about which way they'll jump sexually is a good way to lose money.

**

Mr. C writes:

Guess a sex addicted governor is more important.

I responded: 

Not to pick to much of a nit, but "sex-addicted"? The guy just wanted to get laid, as far as we know, and didn't want to have to chance going to some bar to do it. Seems perfectly logical to me that he'd call an escort agency -- one that he'd used before. He and his wife may not be having sex at all, so just because he wanted sex doesn't make him "sex addicted."

**

Mr. B writes:

There are some things you can do discreetly and get away with, and then there are some you do at your own peril.

I responded:

Perhaps you're unaware of the scope of prostitution-by-escort-agency in this country and around the world. We're talking, just in the US, of thousands of transactions every day, with such transactions taking place in every major city, and most of them don't get busted, even though there are government agencies working diligently to do so.

Spitzer *apparently* just had the bad luck to have his attempted bank transfer to one such agency noticed by a bean-counter ... though I'm not sure the REAL story of how his patronage of that agency was revealed will itself be revealed anytime soon.

**

Mr. A writes:

It's almost like he wanted to get caught.  I've always thought that was an inane idea but it sure seems to fit in this case.

I responded:

I'm sure Sgts. Friday and Gannon would agree with you... but then, they're TV characters.

**

Mr. A writes:

 You have completely missed every point I've been trying to make.  You should think about that.

I responded:

And you should think about your buying into the concept that having extramarital sex with a prostitute somehow makes one unfit for public office, even if he were responsible for busting such outfits previously.

**

Mr. A writes:

It has nothing to do with what I personally think of the concept, it has to do with what the law actually is and what the consequences will actually be here in the real world.  Rant all you want about how things shouldn't be that way but don't try to pretend things are at all different.

I responded:

Perhaps you could go into more detail as to what those "real world" consequences are. He hasn't yet been charged with a crime -- in fact, johns usually aren't. He's not running for reelection soon. A recent president was accused, with some credibility, of having gotten blowjobs from one of his interns, was impeached but acquitted. He also suffered plenty of bad press for his actions -- still does, in fact -- but he apparently had more guts than Spitzer, since he didn't resign.

**

I'm fairly certain this will be continued ...
 







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