Eliot Spitzer Caught in Prostitution Ring

Chris's picture

There are some news ledes that you never expect to read. Case in point:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

Generically, it's not that surprising to find a politician hiring call girls. But Spitzer always seemed to be a genuine straight arrow, or at least smart enough to not get caught up in a sordid scandal du jour. In a way, despite all the mistakes that Spitzer's made since he went from being Attorney General to Governor, it's a little disappointing to see him get caught in something so common

Once the initial surprise wore off, though, there was the inevitable sense of malaise and apathy. Spitzer hasn't made a career out of going after queers or chastizing "loose women"; he's known for prosecuting corporate wrongdoers, so I can't feed my enthusiasm for the story on the righteous schadenfreude that I get out of seeing a "family values" advocate get caught in the back room of a brothel with a bottle of meth, two altar boys, and a billy goat. All I can think is: Oh, no. Not this again.  Because without the sexual hypocrisy, it's a pretty dull story. As a citizen, I care little. There is an element of hypocrisy to the fact that Spitzer has been no friend of sex workers up to this point: he's busted at least two prostitution rings very much like the one that he's been busted for taking part in, but even that is pretty minor in the annals of political hypocrisy. It's unrealistic to expect anything else of any law enforcement official.

This whole thing reveals more about the media and America's obsession with sex than it does about Spitzer or political corruption. As of this writing, CNN has been providing non-stop coverage of Spitzer's press conference and the aftermath. Wolf Blitzer is reporting from the "Situation Room" in typically breathless mode, as though it represented a full-on Constitutional crisis. There's layers and layers of corruption covering our government right now; the concept of citizenship has been virtually demolished until our default role in democracy is that of consumers. That goes unexamined by the press, and it's even cheered on, but throw some infidelity into the mix, and you have a story.  

Eliot Spitzer claims he's not going to resign, but it's obvious to anyone who's watching that the clock is ticking on his administration. Legally, his position is indefensible; since he went from New York to Washington, D.C. to meet the call girl, it's a federal offense, not just a local one. More as the situation develops.