Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitz Takes

Not surprisingly, the blogosphere and the media are going nuts over the Eliot Spitzer prostitution ring story. And not surprisingly, people are taking sides. Spitzer’s enemies — and there are a lot of them, thanks to his career as an aggressive prosecutor of Wall Street white collar crime — are gleefully reporting all the details; they haven’t had this much fun since Monica’s blue dress went on display. Spitzer’s admirers — and they are legion as well, thanks to his career as an aggressive prosecutor of Wall Street white collar crime — are angry and disappointed, as well they should be. As everybody should be, actually, regardless of political leanings.

A lot of sites are going into the details of the investigation and asking a lot of questions.

  • Glenn Greenwald wants to know who cares if Eliot Spitzer hires a prostitute, and asks why prostitution is illegal yet adult pornography isn’t.
  • Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake has some questions about the investigation and why a lot of higher-ups in the Justice Department got involved in what was basically a low-level case, plus a lot of other things that to Jane don’t pass the smell test.
  • Digby wonders why the Mann Act, a relic of Jim Crow, is being invoked.
  • Josh Marshall reports that Gov. Spitzer has hired a law firm that has experience dealing with pols in trouble; the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, whose attorneys include Theodore V. Wells, Jr., who defended Scooter Libby.

There are plenty of double standards being invoked: some of the people who are calling on Gov. Spitzer to resign are the same people who stood behind Sen. David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, when he was named as a client of the D.C. madam. They defend his staying in office because it was a “private matter” and it happened long before he became a senator, yet these are the same people who went after Bill Clinton for his affairs years before he became president and used them to justify his impeachment trial. And then there are those who two weeks ago torched the New York Times for writing a story about John McCain’s close friendship with a female lobbyist and accused the paper of being on a witch hunt and blamed the liberal media for tarnishing a good man for their own circulation; yet yesterday, before Gov. Spitzer, held his press conference, they were all too happy to take the Times at its word and believe everything they printed about the governor’s involvement. And while we’re at it, Mr. Spitzer’s legal defenders should remember that attacking the law itself is the last refuge when you know you’re out of options.

A lot of people on both sides of the aisle are saying that Gov. Spitzer should resign; some are doing it with unmistakable schadenfruede; others with sadness and anger at what they see as hypocrisy and betrayal by someone they admired. He has yet to be charged with a crime, so unlike Sen. Larry Craig, who was at least arrested and pleaded out, Mr. Spitzer does not have the law against him at this time. But to be consistent, those who are demanding his resignation should also demand that any public official who patronized a prostitute at any time in their career should also resign. That would be one sure way to shrink the size of government right there, and if we were to apply the same standard to those who are raising the question and force all those who are demanding his resignation own up to their own legal or sexual indiscretions, the room would fall strangely silent.