Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Who cares if Eliot Spitzer hires prostitutes?

Regarding all of the breathless moralizing from all sides over the "reprehensible," outrageous crimes of Eliot Spitzer: are there actually many people left who care if an adult who isn’t their spouse hires prostitutes? Are there really people left who think that doing so should be a crime, that adults who hire other consenting adults for sex should be convicted and go to prison?

He previously prosecuted — quite aggressively and publicly – several citizens for the "crime" of operating an adult prostitution business. That hypocrisy precludes me from having any real personal sympathy for Spitzer, and no reasonable person could defend him from charges of rank hypocrisy. And he should be treated no differently — no better and no worse — than the average citizen whom law enforcement catches hiring prostitutes.

But how can his alleged behavior — paying another adult roughly $1,000 per hour to travel from New York to Washington to meet him for sex — possibly justify resignation, let alone criminal prosecution, conviction and imprisonment? Independent of the issue of his hypocrisy — which is an issue meriting attention and political criticism but not criminal prosecution — what possible business is it of anyone’s, let alone the state’s, what he or anyone else does in their private lives with other consenting adults?

When politicians are caught cheating, I'd wish they'd leave their wives in the green room while they address the press. You're in the dog house, and it should look that way. Those "stand by your man" visuals are tired and demeaning.


The case started with IRS investigation of "suspicious transactions" about possible bribery, but it soon became clear from wiretaps authorized by the US Attorney General (Alberto Gonzales?) that Spitzer's financial gyrations involved sex rather than official corruption.

The prostitution ring is now being prosecuted, but Spitzer's legal exposure seems limited to possible charges of "a crime called structuring" that involves concealing of payments and sources.

What, then, justifies the outing of Spitzer at this point by anonymous federal officials and the Times of activity that so far has not been deemed illegal and does not involve his duties as Governor?


There goes another superdelegate.


This is sort of the boring take on Spitzer, but what we're seeing here is not the fall—if indeed he does fall—of a high-flying governor. It’s the final tumble of a crushed reformer. Spitzer, for reasons both structural and personal, has been utterly humbled by Albany. The new capitalism he promised, the age of transparency he spoke of, the national ambitions he harbored—all have broken before the obstacles he faced in the governor’s mansion. When you think of the hype he was getting only a couple years ago, that’s a rather remarkable fact. I don't care about the prostitution. But the capacity of the system to stand against those who would reform it, and who come into office with a broad mandate to do so, is really quite sobering.


You may have heard the joke about two men, Dave and Shamus, who are having a beer in their local pub. Shamus points out the window.

"You see that bridge over there," he says to Dave, "it's a good bridge. Built it with me bare hands I did. But do they call me Shamus the bridge builder?"

"No mate they don't," says Dave sympathetically. Shamus pulls mournfully on his beer and points out the door.

"And you see that roof on the school? It's a fine, fine roof, took me two months to build it with me bare hands, but do they call me Shamus the roofer?"

"No, Shamus they don't," says Dave.

Shamus takes another swig of his beer, face turning red before he says "but you f--- ONE sheep"...

It's an old joke but it points to a universal truth about humans that often, despite years of hard work, moderation and discipline, a man can do something stupid, selfish, even evil and his entire past ceases to matter because he is forever defined by that act, that one moment.

Take Peter Hodgkins, the 25-year-old man who was last week sentenced to four years jail for critically injuring a beauty therapist when he threw a rock at a car she was travelling in on the New South Wales south coast.

I don't condone what Hodgkins did - he's caused irreparable harm to Nicole Miller, an innocent woman because of his stupidity - but he will forever be known as the "rock thrower".

His life, and Nicole's, changed forever the moment that rock left his hand and I wonder is there anything he can ever do to efface his crime, to outgrow that moment of idiocy?

American Captain Paul Tibbets, who died last November, was known as the "best flier in the Army Air Force" but will always be remembered for just one moment - piloting the Enola Gay, the aircraft that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing more than 150,000 people.

Cartoon by Jeff Danziger/New York Times Syndicate

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