Thursday, March 27, 2008

And all I got was this lousy New York driver's license

What about the rest of us? To the extent that we root for strong politicians, join political cults, invest our hopes and desires in charismatic leaders, all of us are Spitzer wives.
- Arnold Kling

Let's take a break from all that fancy climate stuff and pay a visit to Albany, where New York's now-former governor has cleaned out his office.

Is there anyone - really, anyone - in American politics more sanctimonious than Eliot Spitzer? When you survey the damage he caused in New York's financial world and the careers he ruined - for no reason, mind you, except his own megalomania - what's just happened to him could not have happened to a more fitting public servant. I guess there was a reason: building a career on prosecutorial wreckage, like some of America's other notorious official lawyers (think Mike Nifong of the Duke non-rape scandal). All of these guys discovered the power of threatening prosecution, not actually prosecuting: it leaves its targets defenseless. With egomania at the top of his agenda, it's not surprising that Spitzer's public approval ratings dropped from about 80% to under 10% in his first year as governor, and that was before this, the final straw. He fancied himself, and was fancied by others, as a "reformer" or a "progressive" or an "enforcer." In fact, he was a pathetic and loud-mouthed bully, enabled by adoring flunky journalists. It's another case of how corrupt our news media has become. They abandoned their most important function vis-a-vis politicians: keeping the bastards honest.

The Wall Street Journal waged a long and brave campaign against Spitzer. See their comments here, in particular those by John Fund and Kimberley Strassel. It comes with the territory, a familiar recipe: lots of power and/or money leads to narcissism and a sense of entitlement, and even a sense of "doing well by doing good." The former scheduling girl for Spitzer's high-priced New York escort service shares her experiences here. Spitzer was also prosecuting both call-girl rings and their johns. He was evidently writing down some phone numbers on the side.

Basically, he's a schmuck.

Don't miss Alan Dershowitz's lame and unconsciously funny attempt to defend Spitzer, which every woman of my acquaintance just laughed herself to death over. The problem with Dershowitz is obvious: the man who helped defend O. J. has tried very hard, and not quite successfully, to remake himself as a respectable Harvard professor with his books, lectures, and involvement in Jewish causes. But when something like the fall of Spitzer happens, the old Dershowitz is back with his smokescreen of rationalizations. His attempts to portray what happened to Spitzer as entrapment are simply wrong. No government agent solicited anything from him or was solicited by him. The Feds were just checking up on what looked like curious campaign finance transactions, which is how they discovered the money-laundering ....

Spitzer has apparently decided to sue the government, unclear for what. Having abused his position as prosecutor, then the governor's office, he'll now be abusing the legal system as a pseudo-plaintiff. Time for a pity party, I suppose.

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