Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Billy and Eliot

I'm sad about Eliot Spitzer. I know it's weird, but I am. I've been an expat since long before he was elected governor, but as a teenager I was an admirer of his, his relentless energy and his willing to go head-to-head with Rudy Giuliani on the issue of New York City community gardens, and I've heard nothing not positive about him as a governor. Well, you know, until now.

It's calling Bill Clinton to mind, of course, and the fact is in terms of a legal violation this is much, much worse. At the beginning of the scandal, Bill Clinton was neither performing an illegal act nor doing something he had publically repudiated and fought against. I mean, I know I was ten, but I really can't recall any Clinton campaign promises that pertained, directly or indirectly, to oral sex, and whatever the American public thinks of adultery it ain't no longer against the law. He may have been taking advantage of his position to get Monica Lewinsky interested in him—in fact, he almost unquestionably was—but that, again, while icky, is not illegal. So though he perjured himself, and I accept that that was, indeed, an illegal act committed by the President, I think it was both ethically and legally questionable that anyone was asking him about it in the first place. What crime, exactly, was Mr. Starr expecting to uncover?

Mr. Spitzer, on the other hand, has made a great deal of effort in his career to fight corruption, particularly in public officials, and has, I believe, gone after prostitution as well as other shadow-economy fields, which is an open contradiction to the law he's long helped to enforce and his openly professed principles. Given that, yeah, he has to resign.

But to see a forceful politician who seemed to be honest and consistent, and who has done a lot of really honorable and important things in the time of my political awareness, go down is frustrating and a little sad. I'm almost sorry I care, that I have to, but I do.


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