As I write this, sick at home, the news channels are all atwitter over New York Gov. Spitzer's pending resignation, following reports of his patronizing a high-class call-girl operation. This is a noteworthy event on several points: 1) Spitzer is a well-known public official from a large state; 2) Spitzer's earlier career as a hard-nosed prosecutor made him a figure of "reform and ethics", which is now laughable; 3) Because the Republicans are utterly gleeful at the sight of a high-ranking Democrat finally nailed in a sex scandal after years of their own getting caught with their pants down; 4) Sex sells.
To be honest, there are no heroes here, and perhaps a few victims (above all Spitzer's wife... for the love of God, will we ever see one day a wife getting medieval on their cheating bastard husband? They just stand there in the glare of the cameras and just let the whole world see the humiliation on their faces). The columnists and the bloggers are all bringing up issues of discussion (why is prostitution illegal? why can't we stop it? what the hell costs $4,000 per hour anyway?), most of them barely even relevant to the moment on hand (who cares how this affects Hillary's campaign? Unless her own cheating bastard husband used the same call girl operation...). The issue most obvious, and the most relevant, is the hypocrisy of it all.
I have no sympathy for Eliot Spitzer. None. His hypocrisy is that he spent years working as a prosecutor, even handling prostitution cases much like the one he's facing now. The evidence, the money involved, his own discussions requesting particular models... this is not entrapment, or a trick. If it were he'd be fighting it. He had to have known that what he was doing was illegal. And he did it anyway. His hypocrisy stems from what has to be a belief in his own moral superiority, his own arrogance, his own belief that he and he alone would never get caught. Join the club, Spitz.
On the same point, I have no desire to side myself with those in the Republican party that had been screaming for Spitzer's resignation, like the state GOP demands that he resign office or face impeachment. These Republican leaders are the same ones who routinely ignored their fellow party members' indiscretions (Mark Foley text messaging, anyone? Can we get some more pictures of Larry Craig's bathroom stall in that Minneapolis airport?), and are still ignoring the indiscretions of Senator David Vitter, a Republican who got caught soliciting a call-girl service in much the same way Spitzer did. Compounding the issue with Vitter is that he was one of the more vocal speakers against Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal for Slick Willie's sexual indiscretions. Anyone noticing the circular/spiral pattern starting to form here...? As for the Republicans, I can't be the only one who wants to stand in front of them and denounce their openly forgiving Vitter for sins they've openly accused Clinton and now Spitzer of doing.
What we are seeing here are levels of hypocrisy piled upon layers of desperation, two political parties that have essentially become mirror images of each other right down to the constant need to spin and lie and excuse their way out of disasters, the constant need to protect their own even when the lawbreakers are so clearly in the wrong, the constant refusal to recognize issues in the real world in lieu of ideological talking points, the constant push to win win win at all costs. We are now faced with a political world in perpetual Damage Control Mode, where every action and statement is going to come back around to bite everyone's ass.
Is there any solution to this? Well for one thing, and I think I've suggested this amendment idea before:
- Lying is not protected speech.
- Any elected official, or staffer, or public servant found to have made false or misleading statements in any way shall be suspended from duty without pay pending full investigation. If found guilty by the law, that person is to be removed from duty and barred for life from holding any office or civil service position and also barred from any job that may have direct dealings with any level of government.
- And I would like to add to this amendment this idea: Hypocrisy is now a felony. Punishable by however Congress sets the law, but personally I'd like to see tar and feathering make a comeback.
If you're worried about this amendment causing a chilling effect, well you're right it does cause a chilling effect: IT'S GONNA STOP PEOPLE FROM LYING. The amendment allows for someone to defend their statements, and the best defense is the TRUTH. If what they said is the truth, they don't get punished. THE ONLY ONES WHO SHOULD GET PUNISHED BY THIS LAW ARE THE LIARS. And for those screaming "Free speech!" or "slippery slope" let me just note that you are essentially defending a right for a person to lie, to bear false witness, to basically go against the truth that should really be protected. Are you also saying that people should lie in court? After all, we have laws for Perjury, for Obstruction, and for making False Statements (even though SOME Presidents also ignore that as well, to their shame). It's just we should apply such enforcement to the political world, to ensure that the citizenry are properly and correctly informed. And if you're worried about forcing politicians and their staffers to tell the truth might compromise National Security, relax. There's an easy out: JUST SAY NO COMMENT. It's still truthful, after all.
One last thing to say. It might surprise people to note that lying (outside of paid advertising of products) is not only currently protected but is some ways encouraged and nurtured. This is the political world we've built, where lying is the coin of the realm, and reality is basically ignored to the suffering of all. That's what I'm watching as Spitzer resigns, as the media elites bicker and crow according to their ideologies, and as the world keeps getting worse. Welcome to 2008, where it turns out Orwell was an optimist.