Wednesday, March 12, 2008


It looks like Eliot Spitzer's political career has reached its end. Some of the press are labeling this a sex scandal. Sex scandal? Eliot Spitzer wasn't--as far as we know--having an affair. He was paying women to have sex with him. That's illegal in every state in the US except Nevada. Don't like that law? Then change it. But until then, what he was doing is a crime. A crime he had prosecuted as Attorney General--at least twice. It's also worth remembering that he engaged in some serious financial gymnastics in order to pay for these services. Said gymnastics may very well be illegal.

The real tragedy here is the pain it brings to Eliot Spitzer's family, especially his daughters. They're going to have to come to terms with the reality that daddy apparently thinks of women as a commodity to be bought or rented. Sad.

The pain it is causing his family aside, this is a fitting end to Eliot Spitzer's political career. After all, he is a man who made his reputation by bullying; and by destroying, and threatening to destroy, the reputations of others. This is well illustrated by Alan Reynolds' 2005 article Trial by Press Release:
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer launched a complaint against the insurance brokerage arm of Marsh & McClellan last November with his usual flamboyant press release accusations of "widespread corruption."

Unsurprisingly, Marsh recently settled in the usual way -- by writing a big check and doing whatever Mr. Spitzer asked. That included replacing its chief executive officer with an old friend of Mr. Spitzer's, Michael Cherkasky.

There was no trial, of course. Writing in Slate, Daniel Gross noted "Spitzer doesn't like taking cases to trial. Instead, he has developed a more powerful tactic: He exploits the threat of stock declines and business losses to force industries to change.... He didn't simply indict. He issued press releases."

Trial-by-press-release circumvents truth and justice. No judge ever separates "findings of fact" from fictional prosecutorial accusations. The accused never get to face their accusers (usually competitors). And no jury is ever asked if Mr. Spitzer's complaints have been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Poetic justice, that's what I call it. It's just too bad so many people had to be hurt in the rpocess.

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