Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer Shocker: Another Moralist Bites The Dust

There's a simple formula for determining which politician will be the next to fall in disgrace. All you have to do is to listen for who is hooting and hollering the most sanctimoniously about immorality. Whether it's Larry Craig on homosexuality, Newt Gingrich on infidelity, or Eliot Spitzer on prostitution, whatever they're railing against in public is likely what they're doing behind closed doors.

Personally, I have nothing against prostitution. It's certainly a scummy thing to get involved in as a married man, but it's by no means inherently evil. In fact, it would be a whole lot more sensible and safer for everyone involved were prostitution legalized. Unfortunately, for Governor Spitzer, however, it hasn't been (nor would he have ever pushed for it to be on his "law and order" watch).

In my eyes, Spitzer's crime - for which he should and will resign - is not solicitation, but hypocrisy. Spitzer framed himself as a moralist in the model of Plato's Euthyphro - a man who would even prosecute his own father in the name of right. He embraced the image of caped crusader, intimating that only he could clean up our wayward Empire State. Well, anyone who has paid attention to Spitzer's brief Administration knows just how poorly he has performed as a crime-fighter in Albany - long before yesterday.

Since taking office, Spitzer has acted like the laws he so zealously trumpets apply to everyone but himself. While condemning the credibility of his allies and enemies alike on the one hand, he has flagrantly abused his power on the other, stooping to such deplorable machinations as illegal wire-tapping and flaunting the campaign finance laws he allegedly held sacrosanct. His embarrassments were so many that only a few months after his landslide victory, Spitzer was already being written off by some as a one-term governor.

With this latest scandal, in one fell stoke Spitzer has humiliated his family, scuttled his reformist political agenda (as well as any else's in New York State for the time being), maligned his party, created negative fodder for the presidential race, and ruined his own career. Oh, and most ironically, even paved the way for his arch-nemesis Joe Bruno to get a promotion. And why? Not because of any sexual indiscretion, but because he thought he thought he was special. He thought that what was good and just was whatever he pronounced it to be, and so he could never do wrong.

Had Spitzer been any less self-righteous, he would have friends coming to his defense. He would have been able to slither away like Senator David Vitter of Louisiana did a few months ago. As it is, now he has no one. But unlike the lone sheriff Gary Cooper played in High Noon, Spitzer can't even take solace in his own virtue. He's just as bad as the outlaws coming for revenge.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Speaking of Euthyphro, you might like to read this article:
"A Christian Answer to the Euthyphro Dilemma" (link).