Monday, March 10, 2008

Eliot Spitzer's Moral Hazard

I cannot believe New York Governor Eliot Spitzer!!! (before you read further, just know that this post contains alot of foul language, but I'm pissed) The NYT first broke the story this afternoon, Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring.

Are you kidding me?! Seriously. Your wife wasn't enough for four years? Is that too much to ask? Ohhhh, noooo. You win a landslide victory on a platform of bringing ethics back (as if it came and left) to Albany. You scored major victories for the little guy against Wall St. when you were NY State Attorney General (when the news hit the New York Stock Exchange this afternoon, the floor erupted into cheers). And like a sucker I believed in you. Just like a sucker I believed in Bill Clinton. Clearly, I must have "sucker" imprinted on my voter registration card.

And I cannot even imagine what Silda Spitzer is going through. It's 2008 and we get to watch an incredibly smart woman stand by her man, from sacrifice to humiliation, yet again.

This is what I don't get, all politicians know that to sleep with a prostitute, an intern, a man in a bathroom stall, a staffer, basically anyone but your wife-- is to commit political suicide. You're a big important man (always a man), President of the United States, a US Senator, a Governor of a big state with a big city, and in all likelihood you're Ivy League educated and filthy f*cking rich. So what the hell? Is it that everyone does it and only a few get caught? Or does political power and privilege, I'm talking the upper echelon of it, create a moral hazard simply because it is what it is-- powerful?

According to Wikipedia, "Moral hazard is the prospect that a party insulated from risk may behave differently from the way it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk" For example, many people believe that to bailout subprime would create a moral hazard; that the industry would take on more risk simply because there was precedent of having been rescued from its own royal f*ck up. Not a grammatically taut sentence, but you get the picture.

I'm obviously not a politically powerful person, so I don't know. But the thing I keep on coming back to is what was he thinking??? He did more than f*ck a prostitute, he f*cked over New York. New York state had a real chance to come out of the dark ages, from the prison population to the SUNY population to the waterfront in Buffalo to the first Democratic majority in the NY State Senate in 30 years, Spitzer had the power to make real change, the kind of change this lifelong New Yorker could only dream about. And he threw it the f*ck away.


English Major said...

It's certainly political suicide to be running around on your wife, and certainly it's particularly sticky in this case, given the moral rectitude on which Spitzer's political persona rests, but I'm just so over this--there's a long and glorious history of rich, powerful men spending time and money with expensive hookers, and at some point, don't we sort of accept that as a fact of life and go "eh"? Must we really continue to get up in arms every single time a 22-year-old is caught naked in the Oval Office? It just seems out of proportion to me.

In this case, though, there's the very real hypocrisy of Spitzer having prosecuted prostitution rings--that makes his patronage of same seem like a dealbreaker to me.

asgreen said...

I totally agree with you. I just keep thinking about what are these men thinking? They are in positions to do real good, and instead they completely screw up. I just linked to your post from my blog since you say exactly what I'm feeling!

PiggyBankBlues said...


i completely agree with you, and i posted in bad mood, but i personally do not care about a politician's consensual sexual behaviour. i would LOVE to move on! i think this country was founded by puritans and it shows.

however, access to privacy, from the cultural (ie the internet) to the political (ie homeland security) has exploded. THIS is the world that spitzer was elected into, right or wrong (wrong), AND he is the self appointed uber ethicist! a politican knows this is the US of A, not the Netherlands. they know the risk, and yet?

it's the blatant disregard for risk, the arrogance that they are above this risk, and the responsibilty of office at stake. certainly not a moral responsibility, but the responsiblity to be an agent of change, to propel our society forward in legislation and tenor, that is what is at stake. and that is what pisses me off.

and absolutely, the dealbreaker is the hypocrisy. because if it wasn't a prostitute, he could've stayed in office and pushed the sexual moralists off their high horse. that would be recognizing the risk, and changing it.

asgreen- thanks! obviously, i got a little long winded, but yes, you hit the nail on the head concisely :)

Andrew Stevens said...

Some of us have always known that Eliot Spitzer had a size ten ego in a size two soul. The man was and is nothing more than a thug and a bully and completely lacking in anything like integrity or ethics. Oh, sure, he talked about those things a lot, but the only interest he ever had was in what was good for Eliot Spitzer. Don't get me wrong; the depth of Spitzer's hypocrisy is amazing. I have no doubt that, due to his complete lack of self-awareness, he didn't even know he was corrupt. Maybe now he'll be able to figure it out.

PiggyBankBlues said...

i'm sure he won't figure it out. i'm sure he'll just think that this is what makes him human just like the rest of us.

Andrew Stevens said...

I do have some sympathy for Spitzer. Had he not been born with that silver spoon in his mouth, maybe he would have been a really great man (or at least a good man). As it is, the man just oozed an entitlement mentality which only comes from being born to wealth.

Andrew Stevens said...

By the by, English Major, I assume that you're perfectly content if your boyfriend or husband runs around on you. If that's not the case, then you should be careful in further encouraging a culture where men (and women) are told that this is a perfectly ordinary and acceptable thing to do, even if it does put their wives (or husbands) at risk of STDs.

Lots and lots and lots of men do not cheat on their wives, rich and famous or not.

PiggyBankBlues said...

whoa, easy there andrew. i encourage lots of different views to be aired out here, but try not to make it personal towards other posters. feel free to direct it towards me. wait, i'll do it for you :)

a little causality might do a world of good here. the consequence of my morality is not the existence of another's. just because i think a governor can cheat on his wife and still serve office does not mean i condone it in my own life. it means i don't care what a politician does in the privacy of their bed. i care how they govern and consensual sexual behavior has nothing to do with a person's ability to govern.

Andrew Stevens said...

Really, my deepest apologies. I meant absolutely nothing personal to English Major or anyone else. I really didn't expect anyone to take it that way, so please accept my apologies if anyone else does.

My opinion, however, is that culture matters. If you tell people that a certain behavior is okay, they will believe it. If your husband sees that you don't care if other men cheat on their wives (and therefore don't care about their wives' pain), then he will assume that you won't care if he cheats on you. Moreover, a man who will lie to his wife won't think twice of lying to the electorate. I would think this was obvious.

Andrew Stevens said...

I should say that I have no problem with French President Sarkozy keeping a mistress which his wife is fully aware of, nor do I care if he's having sex with teenage boys, for that matter, so long as his wife knows and the boys are completely consensual. It is not the sexual morality that bothers me; it is the complete lack of integrity. The only thing politicians are selling you is their honesty. Without it, they don't have a product.

English Major said...

Like piggybankblues says. I might (or might not—it's never come up, so it's hard to say for sure) dump my boyfriend if I caught him sleeping around, but I wouldn't call his boss and argue he should be fired because of it. He's still plenty qualified.

BTW, I'm in favor of legalizing prostitution, and the issue here, as I mentioned, is that of hypocrisy: Spitzer can't puff up his reputation partly by prosecuting prostitution rings and then patronize them in his spare time. Dealbreaker.

Ms. M&P said...

GREAT post. You said it better than I could have. It's the arrogance and hypocrisy of it all that bothers me more than his sleeping with prostitutes. Granted, I don't agree with his lifestyle, but as long as it's two consenting adults I'll stay out of his business. However, if he decides to make his personal life our business and sells his lawmaking abilities on his ethics, then that's a HUGE problem. If he based his lawmaking and leadership on his ethics and his ethics fall apart, he's got nothing left.

Overall, I'm just deeply disappointed. What's worse is that there's going to be more of this coming out this year if Larry Flynt keeps his promise.

I do my best to focus on the clean politicians who really focus on serving the public. There are a lot of them--they just tend to keep a low profile.

Andrew Stevens said...

I too favor the legalization of prostitution. I have met a few wholly admirable men who have had occasion to avail themselves of the services of prostitutes. I have even met admirable prostitutes. I have never met an admirable adulterer.

A man (or woman) who can't keep his integrity when it comes to sex is unlikely to be able to keep his integrity when it comes to money or power either. I present the careers of Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Eliot Spitzer, and Newt Gingrich as Exhibits A, B, C, and D. All were also known for either corrupt monetary dealings or flagrant abuses of power.

Too many people are willing to look past adultery if it's "between two consenting adults." It is fascinating to me that we have so little regard for the wives (or husbands) and children whose lives are ruined every day by this incredibly selfish behavior. The worst part is we have a culture which cheers it on with best-selling books like The Bridges of Madison County which tries to convince everyone that adultery is exciting, fun, and harmless and marriage is terrible, dull, and stultifying. (There's nothing wrong with this view, actually. If you hold it, don't enter a committed relationship. Problem solved.)

There are, as Ms. M&P points out, plenty of clean politicians and, also, I am a great believer in redemption. It is possible that Mr. Spitzer will use this humiliation to learn a valuable lesson and I hope he does. I am not, by the way, advocating that his wife leave him. They have three children she has to consider. She does have to decide whether or not he's redeemable, because right now he's a man who put his own carnal lust above the interests of his three young children and it's hard to get more reprehensible than that.