Monday, March 10, 2008


The news that New York's Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, sought the services of high-priced prostitutes is just the icing on the cake -- Spitzer was already a disaster:

Before his first year in office, Eliot Spitzer was a populist avenger, a media darling, a rising Democratic star, a progressive's Rudy Giuliani, a panacea-in-waiting, a front-runner in the first-Jewish-President race. Somehow, he's become an unpopular governor careering from mess to mess. Allegations that his office used the state police to smear [Republican State Senate President] Joseph Bruno for misusing state aircraft (an affair known as Troopergate), and a doomed proposal to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, have compromised the brand.... [In the 2006 election,] he got sixty-nine per cent of the vote; a few weeks ago, a poll found that only twenty-five per cent would vote for him if an election were held today.

Sometimes I look at Democrats in office and think of what Casey Stengel said when he managed the hapless 1962 New York Mets: Can't anybody here play this game? Here's a guy who could have been, if not president (he's not the warmest guy on the planet), then certainly a U.S. senator, an attorney general, or quite possibly a Supreme Court justice. Instead, he spent most of his first year in office answering questions about a ridiculous abuse of authority, then about a driver's license proposal that showed he was politically tin-eared (and that served as the excuse for the big Hillary Clinton pile-on last fall) ... and now this.

I'll shed no tears if Spitzer resigns -- the Dems don't need a Larry Craig or David Vitter.


If you're keeping score at home, Spitzer backs Hillary Clinton. The man who'd replace him, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, who's African-American, also endorsed Clinton, but possibly with some discomfort:

As he greeted voters outside P.S. 175 in Harlem on Tuesday morning, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson was explaining how he thought Mr. Obama would win the district when an elderly woman approached him and asked who she should vote for.

Mr. Paterson, a prominent Clinton surrogate -- he was the guy directly behind her as she gave her concession speech in Iowa -- hesitated.

"Uh, Hillary," he offered sheepishly.

"Uh, O.K. All right," the woman said, somewhat dismissively, as Mr. Paterson chuckled at his predicament.

Asked afterward why he had hesitated, Mr. Paterson said he had been reluctant to try and sell Mrs. Clinton "because I knew that woman was going to laugh in my face as soon as I did it."


UPDATE: A couple of commenters have asked why Spitzer should resign, especially when Larry Craig and David Vitter haven't. Let me make myself clear: I wish Spitzer had resigned before this scandal broke. He came in on an absolutely massive wave of goodwill and he pissed every bit of it away last year. I am sick to death of Democrats squandering the opportunity to reverse the abysmal image Democrats have in this country. I want the word "Democrat" to stand for competence and excellence in the public's mind, and "Republican" to stand for ineptitude and incompetence. Spitzer was a screw-up all last year, and now this. The hell with him.


ANOTHER UPDATE: I expect to have more to say about this case, but for now I'll just say that the fact that Craig and Vitter are still in office also addresses the question of Democratic competence -- approximately two decades after the need for it became obvious, it's clear that Democrats still don't have a fully functioning, ref-working noise machine. I hate the fact that our political culture requires this, but it does, and we don't have one. What are we waiting for?

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