10 March 2008

Spitzer Scandal

About a year ago, I predicted that Spitzer would be elected president in 2012. Damon broke the sad news to me in what struck me as an overly gleeful font. This morning at breakfast, the Fox News commentators put a fork in it: Spitzer's political career may be over. It seems that the reformer met up with a high-priced prostitute when in DC. (No word yet about how aspiring politicians are supposed to tell the difference between high-priced prostitutes and cheap politicians.)

Sadly, the news is about his libido. (You know what they say: big libido means a big fall.) Little is said about why the man rose to prominence and why it is important for someone to take his role.

In the last couple of decades, there has been a surge in the percentage of households that own stock (whether directly or through mutual and pension funds). To leave this money sloshing around without some regulatory oversight is to invite a series of ENRON-like fiascos in which senior executives and financial representatives easily manipulate the average investor. Imagine how ugly any sport would get after decades without a referee and you get an idea of what Wall Street could become – has at times become.

Spitzer was one of the few politicians who seemed able and wiling to go after the Wall Street’s coarser elements, protecting the average investor. The stupid politicians will see this imbroglio as an opening to steal Spitzer's votes. (The man recently won as governor of New York by an overwhelming majority.) The smart politicians will see this as an opening to steal his unique market position as the guy who protects the average investor.

The wrong lesson to draw from this is that this niche does not need to be served. Any politician who is savvy enough to create a career like Spitzer’s is going to have a real edge in any political contest. The sad thing is, these kinds of careers take decades to establish and just minutes to self sabotage.


Anonymous said...

I think most people will just laugh at him and move on, but the press will never let this story go.

Stories like this one let them inject a little T&A into their broadcasts while pretending that they're just doing their jobs as reporters. Sex sells.

Anonymous said...

free bet

what a mess, i mean the guy was like idolized for his clean record...

Gypsy at Heart said...

The worst of it is the self-sabotage of course. I'm by no means condoning his un-stellar actions but all the good he ever did will get buried under this story. The prostitutes is what he will be remembered for.

cce said...

In France, this sort of thing would be just, well, expected. We Americans have a ridiculous standard to which we hold our politicians. (I wonder if this has been a consensual affair with another woman not a prostitute, if he'd be still crucified?) This seems to be something that he and his wife should hash out. Those in glass houses and all that...

Damon said...

the 'gleeful' tone you sort of over-emphasized is a result of two things.

1. the rarity which Ron gets something wrong!

2. the relative joy in the fact that democrats are as hypocritical as republicans. its nice when both parties can play on the same moral sub-standard.

jen said...

i agree we are a bit too uptight about things, but the issue i have with this dude is that he railed against this sort of thing, and then did it.

just keep your trap shut next time, that's all i ask. (not yours, his)

The Linden Row said...

With power, apparently, comes hubris. The irony evident in the projected image of Spitzer before and after contrast is truly stunning.

Ron Davison said...

Once again, the breakfast room at the hotel was discomfited by the nattering nabobs of nude boobs, or whatever those pundits who talk in outraged tones about sex ought to be called.

free bet,
indeed. this is the secular equivalent of hypocrisy.

you are so right - and that is so sad.

your comment suggests to me a spring break trading window in which countries could trade budding politicians. "We'll give you two would-be reformers with libido issues in return for one straight-laced conservative," the US tells France.

Thank you for the vote of confidence. I would say that I've yet to distinguish between the parties based on rates of hypocrisy.

I guess, in his defense, Elliot may have figured that he'd be killed if this got out whether or not he went after such things. (Or, then again, he may not have figured in anything other than her figure, in which case he ... well, to speculate about what he was thinking may be making the mistake of thinking he was thinking ...)

I wonder if this is why so few politicians make a reputation as reformers - they simply don't have the hubris to go after people who are not really so different from them.