Ashley breaks out: Ashley Dupré, the prostitute whose tryst with soon-to-be-former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer led to his downfall, has used the media frenzy surrounding the scandal to launch her career in music. Billboard magazine went so far as to have music-industry executives review her two songs featured on AmieStreet.com, where they have set record-breaking download numbers. Even the Wall Street Journal has posted user-created mashup videos of the young singer. Bloggers have been quick to comment on her ascendant career.
Gawker points out the hilarity of the past week, as media personalities scramble to make money off the scandal: "In America, when two adults have consensual sex, and the circumstances are just right, they give birth to a vibrant media subeconomy, and this is the continuing miracle of the story of disgraced Gov. Eliot Spitzer and admired prostitute Ashley Kristen Alexandra Nina Vanetta DiPietro Dupre." Sister blog Wonkette sees Dupré as finally fulfilling the dreams all Americans have held for prostitutes since Pretty Woman debuted: "Truly this is just like that movie with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, but if the Richard Gere character lost his job and his dignity and then got indicted on federal white-slavery charges."
Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch gives a cogent summary of the conventional wisdom on Dupré's foray into the celebrity world: "Slightly better than Heidi Montag. Light years from Edith Piaf. That's the generous verdict for the musical talents of Ashley Alexandra Dupré, a.k.a. 'Kristen,' the high-priced prostitute linked to disgraced New York governor Eliot Spitzer."
In a more serious light, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley explores the legal ramifications of Dupre's success: "[H]er celebrity status does represent some value. While past sex celebrities like Jessica Culter (the so-called Washingtonienne) ultimately declared bankruptcy, … there is an obvious value from such attention. Use of her image for commercial purposes can be actionable as misappropriation. Of course, any profit making will have to coincide with any time served on the underlying crimes. She already has a lawyer, but do not be surprised to see her acquire an agent. This is America where there are no good or bad celebrities. Just celebrities."
One potential bump on the road to stardom: The MySpace page that told of her rough childhood and stints of homelessness and drug abuse? Not quite 100 percent true. At Slate's XX Factor, Hanna Rosin dishes about Ashley's newly discovered origins: "OK, so I am a sucker, or at the very least confused. Ashley grew up in a nice middle-class suburban neighborhood? She spent her young days cheerleading and putting up signs for baby-sitting? … All I can say is, the fathers of Wall, N.J., must have been begging her to baby-sit."
Read more about Ashley/Kristin.
Penned in:Mark Penn,Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, made headlines when he insisted that Barack Obama would be unelectable in the general election, despite the fact that he leads among pledged delegates, states won, and the popular vote.
Marc Ambinder patently denies Penn's assertion: "Of course Obama can win the general election; it's illogical to generalize from the vote totals alone, as I and others have pointed out. Yes, Obama's Gary Hart-Jesse Jackson coalition is untested in modern general elections, but we live in hyperpartisan times, Democrats have an enormous partisan identification advantage, and Democrats are much more enthusiastic about their candidate than Republicans are."
Jonathan Chait at the New Republic's Plank worries that such claims might take hold: "She needs to convince the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to split for her by about a 2-to-1 margin. The only way she can get a split like that is if she can persuasively argue that Obama is unelectable. And the only way she can do that is to make him unelectable. Some people have treated this as an unfortunate byproduct of Clinton's decision to continue her campaign. It's actually a central element of the strategy." Jonathan Singer at liberal MyDD agrees and fears what lengths the Clinton campaign will go to in order to win the nomination: "With this in mind, the most sensible conclusion I seem to be able to infer from Penn's statements are that after the Clinton campaign gets done with Obama he won't be able to win a national election—in other words a promise from the Clinton campaign to make Obama unelectable."
The National Journal may not agree with Penn's arguments, but Ronald Brownstein does believe there are legitimate concerns with Obama's electability. "If Obama runs well, he seems more likely than Clinton to assemble a big majority and trigger a Democratic sweep—not only by attracting independents and crossover Republicans but also by increasing turnout among African-Americans and young people. But if Obama stumbles, he could face a greater danger of fracturing the traditional Democratic coalition by losing seniors and blue-collar whites to McCain, principally on security issues. Clinton's reach across the electorate may not be as long, but her grip on her voters could be firmer."