Rule #1: If you ride into elective office as a crusader on your white horse, people will try to knock you off. If you’re arrogant, they’ll try harder. In Spitzer’s case, he came into office on a streamroller but the lesson is the same. The forces of bureaucracy and the status quo are incredibly powerful. Show any sign of vulnerability or hypocrisy and they’ll stop you right in your tracks.
Rule #2: You need friends and allies in politics. Even politicians with the best intentions get pushed off course. But without people on your side, you’ll spend most of your time trying to get out of a ditch. Your adversaries will work tirelessly to keep you there. Since his inauguration, Spitzer has even had people in his own party cheering for his demise.
The New York Times had a profile of Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson, who will become this nation’s fourth-ever African American governor, and who is legally blind. But there’s much more to the story. Glenn Greenwald wants to know who cares if Eliot Spitzer hires prostitutes? And my DocuDharma colleague ek hornbeck angrily made the point:
On the one hand we have a man who, if every single allegation and inference is proven true, paid money to have sex and tried to conceal that fact from his wife, the government, and the people who elected him. He hypocritically denounced the crimes he was committing.
On the other hand we have a man who is a war criminal. Who’s administration has killed hundreds of thousands of innocents (maybe along with a few guilty). and rendered millions homeless refugees. Who has condemned millions of women to Sharia Law and Burkas. Who lied 935 times to us and the whole world. Who is even now plotting to extend this illegal war that has damaged our national defense and our economy in a direction that will DESTROY IT!
But others question the very process that led to Spitzer’s getting busted. Because it fits a certain sinister pattern.
Soon, the I.R.S. agents, from the agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, were working with F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors from Manhattan who specialize in political corruption.
The inquiry, like many such investigations, was a delicate one. Because the focus was a high-ranking government official, prosecutors were required to seek the approval of the United States attorney general to proceed. Once they secured that permission, the investigation moved forward.
I’m just wondering when exactly last year that permission was sought. Rove and Gonzales both resigned in August of 07 under a cloud for a plot to fire US Attorneys who refused to trump up charges of “voter fraud” and pursue cases against Democratic politicians. Mukasey was sworn in in November. Peter D. Keisler was acting attorney general during the interim. Which one ordered the investigation?
Ken Silverstein notes:
A reader emails with an interesting observation:
Amazing how Senator David Vitter’s name never leaked out of the Justice Department after the arrest of the D.C. Madam, but Eliot Spitzer’s name leaked out of the Justice Department within a week of the initial arrest in the Emperor V.I.P. case.
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….
(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.
So, Spitzer’s gone, and his own hubris played a major role. But the opening line of Horton’s post may turn out to be the real story:
It looks like the Bush Justice Department just bagged themselves another Democratic Governor.
And very possibly primarily because he is a Democrat.