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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

To resign, or not to resign?
Posted by Jill | 5:31 AM
Why Eliot Spitzer should not resign:

Two words. Don Siegelman. Doesn't it seem a little odd that the IRS just HAPPENED to notice Spitzer moving money around, and equally odd that everyone is admitting that someone less "high profile" probably wouldn't have been noticed doing the same thing? This wouldn't be the first time the Bush Administration's justice department sandbagged a Democratic governor who was pissing them off.

As Scott Horton notes in Harper's:

However, there is a second tier of questions that needs to be examined with respect to the Spitzer case. They go to prosecutorial motivation and direction. Note that this prosecution was managed with staffers from the Public Integrity Section at the Department of Justice. This section is now at the center of a major scandal concerning politically directed prosecutions. During the Bush Administration, his Justice Department has opened 5.6 cases against Democrats for every one involving a Republican.

Beyond this, a number of the cases seem to have been tied closely to election cycles. Indeed, a study of the cases out of Alabama shows clearly that even cases opened against Republicans are in fact only part of a broader pattern of going after Democrats. So here are the rather amazing facts that surface in the Spitzer case:

(1) The prosecutors handling the case came from the Public Integrity Section.

(2) The prosecution is opened under the White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. You read that correctly. The statute itself is highly disreputable, and most of the high-profile cases brought under it were politically motivated and grossly abusive.

Here are a few:

  • Heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson was the first man prosecuted under the act — for having an affair with Lucille Cameron, whom he later married. The prosecution was manifestly an effort “to get” Johnson, who at the time was the most famous African-American. (All of this is developed well in Ken Burns’s film “Unforgiveable Blackness”).

  • University of Chicago sociologist William I. Thomas was prosecuted for having an affair with an officer’s wife in France. Thomas was targeted because of his Bohemian social and his radical political views.

  • In 1944 Charles Chaplin was prosecuted for having an affair with actress Joan Barry. The prosecution again provided cover for a politically motivated effort to drive Chaplin out of the country.

  • Canadian author Elizabeth Smart was arrested and charged in 1940 while crossing the border with the British poet George Barker

(3) The resources dedicated to the case in terms of prosecutors and investigators are extraordinary.
(4) How the investigation got started. The Justice Department has yet to give a full account of why they were looking into Spitzer’s payments, and indeed the suggestion in the ABC account is that it didn’t have anything to do with a prostitution ring. The suggestion that this was driven by an IRS inquiry and involved a bank might heighten, rather than allay, concerns of a politically motivated prosecution.

All of these facts are consistent with a process which is not the investigation of a crime, but rather an attempt to target and build a case against an individual.

(h/t for the above: Jane Hamsher)

So, Governor, perhaps you should stay on and fight this. You're a prosecutor, go digging. There's more than a little smoke here that this is a politically-motivated prosecution.

Why they're going after you now is anyone's guess. It isn't as if you're the most popular New York governor of all time. On the contrary; a majority of New Yorkers thought you were a prick (in the metaphorical sense) well before all this came to light. So why are the Feds going after damaged goods?

In a sane world, it would be hard to believe that the timing of this story could be linked to something so relatively insignificant, but we ARE talking about a Republican party whose doctrine would logically punish women for having menstrual periods. So the idea that the announcement would be timed to prevent Spitzer from speaking before the Planning Advocates of New York State about a proposed bill that would ensure the legality of abortion services in the state should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade doesn't seem as ludicrous as it sounds.

Governor Spitzer, you're most assuredly an asshole. But if you're a criminal, then so is David Vitter. HE's still in Congress, because he chose not to cave. Get up, declare this a politically-motivated prosecution, and fight. Tell the press that you'll step down when Vitter does. Sure, you'll be impeached and probably removed, and since you're a party hack this won't matter to you. But it'll be something people like ME can point out -- that Republicans are willing to throw an elected official out of office for sex; while Democrats can't even get their act together to throw a NON-elected president out of office for illegally spying on Americans, getting us into war on a lie, and bankrupting the country to stuff cash into the pockets of his friends.

Why Eliot Spitzer should resign:

Why should Eliot Spitzer resign as governor of New York when we have a parade of Republicans, most notably David Vitter, who have committed similar transgressions and are still holding office?

Because Democrats are supposed to be better than this. Most of us have had a field day pointing out the hypocrisy of moralistic Republicans who look for anonymous sex in public rest rooms or patronize prostitutes who have the same first names as their wives. And we've also had a field day with the hoops their apologists have had to jump through in order to justify what they did, or show how it isn't so bad, when the fact of the matter is that it is that bad, and there is no justification. If you're going to take the moral high road, you'd better make sure you don't have any bread crumbs left in your own path. And while Spitzer may not have been the kind of Christofascist Zombie we ordinarily associate with getting caught with one's hand in the cookie jar, he was not without his own holier-than-thou factor.

Spitzer should also resign because there's nothing the media love more than a good, juicy sex scandal. In the summer of 2001, while Richard Clarke was trying to get Condoleeza Rice to pay attention to warning after warning about an impending al-Qaeda attack, the media were slobbering over just how much nasty an obscure Congressman from California was doing with a young Jewish woman with a New Agey name. That summer was All Gary Condit, All the Time (at the same time as they were ignoring the mysterious death of a young woman who worked for then-Florida Republican Congressman and current MSNBC talking head Joe Scarborough in said Congressman's office, but that's yet another story).

Yesterday Admiral William Fallon resigned as the head of CENTCOM, an event which seems to be the main horseman of the apocalypse that George W. Bush seems determined to rain upon us before he heads for his ranch in Crawford to sit at the right hand o'Jesus, eating pretzels and finally having a long cold beer while watching those pesky Jews and heathens finally burn for not accepting his Lord and Savior. But this event went largely unnoticed, because what is the resignation of the main firewall between the American people and catastrophe when compared with the opportunity to post photos of a babe in a bikini who was bought and paid for by the Democratic governor of New York?

The third reason Spitzer should resign is because the kind of mind-boggling stupidity that leads any man, particularly a Democrat in this day and age, one who was loathed by so many powerful people, one who fancies himself to be an upright enforcement of the law, to think he can move this kind of money around and patronize hookers and delude himself that he'll never get caught deserves to be punished. I mean, violation of the Mann Act? You gotta be shitting me. That's one of those statutes that stays on the books because no one thinks anyone will ever be actually prosecuted for violating it. And yet, I'll bet that as prosecutor, Spitzer wouldn't have hesitated to invoke it. Dumbass.

And the final reason is to spare Silda Wall Spitzer, who is the kind of beautiful, accomplished woman that makes us mere mortals wonder, "If HER husband can't stay away from the hookers, what chance do rest of us have?" from having to continue to walk the path taken by Lee Hart, Suzanne Craig, Dina Matos McGreevey, Wendy Vitter, and so many others even one more time. I don't judge those women one bit. To find out via the press that the life you knew has just imploded and is doing so spectacularly on a public stage, it may be easier to stand up there and decide later just what you plan to do. I just wish that the rule book which says that these women have to do this could be rewritten so that a wife of one of these nimrods who decides she just wants to sit at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and try to start making some decisions as to what she wants to do, can do so instead of having to be out there so the whole world can evaluate just how upset she is.

It's over, Governor Spitzer. Now leave the stage, see if there's anything you can do to make amends to your wife and your children, and for God's sake learn something from this.
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Blogger K said...
I'm in the he should resign right now camp, however, I don't think he should be prosecuted. Unless, of course, the others are, in which case, he's screwed (I really didn't mean that as a pun) and should be. He's such an ass.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Just a great thoughtful post on all levels.

Much appreciated by this disappointed New Yorker.

Blogger Bob said...
Spitzer resigned. No matter how the scandal came to light, it's real, NY state government was paralyzed (it wasn't moving so smoothly anyway), & he would have been impeached. Hubris, again.

Blogger missy said...
Why Eliot Spitzer should resign:
Because Democrats are supposed to be better than this.


What a fucking idiot. (No pun intended.)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Spitzer should not resign, at least not yet.

Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter, Vitter,

Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig, Larry Craig,

It's funny Brilliant at Breakfast argues both sides, just like a liberal,

Anonymous Anonymous said...
O’Reilly’s comment “It's funny Brilliant at Breakfast argues both sides, just like a liberal” dramatically displays the single most crippling fault of what passes for "conservative" thinking: the inability of the "thinker" to acknowledge that more than one idea can be true at the same time. This sort of binary thinking is the trademark of the poorly educated (and the well-educated for whom either/or is the only intellectual stance they can muster).

Blogger Distributorcap said...
another 2 reasons he should NOT have resigned.. (but did) --

David Vitter
Larry Craig

still have their jobs

Anonymous Anonymous said...
My thought exactly -- dumbass! After the initial shock, I was very sad and disappointed. I too was of the mind that he should not resign, he should stay and fight. The names Vitter, Craig and Fowley among others rang in my mind. Then more info came out and I decided he's a dumbass.
"Mind-boggling stupidity"... that is exactly what it is.. mind-boggling. Why would he give his rethugligan enemies the ammo? Why?
I just don't understand why a man who worked hard to get to the position of Governor, who put forth the image he did, would throw it all away for some sex. To destroy his career, his credibility, his honor for sex. Now I'm not saying sex is a bad thing -- it's great but come on a smart man like that to knowingly, willingly break the laws he enforces. How absolutely stupid can he be. I just don't get it. A complete frickin moron.
I also agree that his wife shouldn't have to stand up in front of all the media and the nation, by his side. You could see in her eyes that she was completely worn out. I couldn't stand up there with him if I had been his wife. I'd be too pissed off to even be in the same room with his dumbass.
Sorry for the long post, this NYer living in CA just had to vent.
Anyway, great post. Glad I clicked on your site from a Salon link.

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