Monday, March 10, 2008

Anything Big Happen Today?

Governor Eliot Spitzer ought to be a text book example of how NOT to run a political career.

After making his bones as a hard-nosed prosecutor who took on Wall Street corruption and malfeasance in the public and private sectors and running as the guy who was going to change politics as usual up in Albany, he has himself become embroiled in not one but two scandals that look like they will all but end his political career.

The first scandal involved Spitzer aides and political dirty tricks. That one, while politically damaging to Spitzer, wasn't as bad as what broke today:

NEW YORK -- Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the crusading politician who built his career on rooting out corruption, apologized Monday after allegations surfaced that he paid thousands of dollars for a high-end call girl. He did not elaborate on the scandal, which drew calls for his resignation.


The New York Democrat's involvement in the ring was caught on a federal wiretap as part of an investigation opened in recent months, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing inquiry.

Four people allegedly connected to the ring, identified in court papers as the Emperors Club VIP, were arrested last week. The ring arranged connections between wealthy men and more than 50 prostitutes in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami, London and Paris, prosecutors said.

According to the law enforcement official, Spitzer is the person identified in legal papers as "Client 9," who paid for a four-hour tryst with a woman identified as "Kristen" at a Washington hotel on Feb. 13.

Gotta love when the governor of New York State is identified in an indictment as "Client 9."

And you gotta love when a politician trying to explain away a sex scandal forces his wife to stand by him while he offers lame excuses.

Can there be much in life more uncomfortable and downright selfish than that?

At any rate, most politicians could survive this kind of thing these days, but I'm not sure about Spitzer. While all kinds of Moral Majority types have gotten caught in public restrooms or madam's books engaging in "immoral" behavior, most do not have the kind of enemies Spitzer has.

Senator David Vitter, for instance, conservative Republican/Family Values Guy/pro-marriage proponent, turned up in the D.C. Madam's little book, yet he managed to survive charges of hypocrisy, immorality and downright creepiness (rumors swirled around the Internets that Vitter liked to wear Huggies when he met with his professional women...) and is still serving his term.

Senator Larry Craig, conservative Republican/Family Values Guy/pro-marriage proponent, got arrested in a Minneapolis bathroom for allegedly soliciting an undercover cop for sex, pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge, then tried to have the guilty plea rescinded when the scandal broke publicly. He even announced he would resign his seat, but reneged on that promise and is still serving in the Senate. His excuse - that he has a "wide stance" when using a public restroom - may be a punchline on The Daily Show and Colbert, but Craig still has his job.

But Spitzer, another "holier-than-thou" guy who set himself up as the public morality police in his job as New York attorney general, has made so many enemies on Wall Street and in the political world that I just think he's going to have a more difficult time surviving this than other politicians.

And maybe he shouldn't survive it. You know, if a politician's going to set himself up as a "holier-than-thou" crusader who takes down wrong-doers and such, shouldn't he NOT use a call girl service?

Or at the very least not make the call to the prostitute ring himself so that if the lines were wire-tapped his voice would be on the tape?

You know, if Spitzer was dumb enough to do this once, I bet he did it lots of times before. Given all the guys on Wall Street who hate his guts (just watch CNBC and listen for how they say his name) and given the probability that Spitzer has engaged in this kind of behavior before, I'm surprised it took this long for something to come out.

The bad part about all of this is that we're going to get a plethora of "Bloomberg for Governor" stories now that Spitzer seems mortally wounded after this scandal.

While last week I didn't think there was much to those rumors, after today I can start to see a scenario where Mayor Moneybags becomes Governor Moneybags and brings his Children First education reforms statewide while rezoning most of the state for sports stadiums and luxury buildings.
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