Eliot's Waste Land

Eliot's Waste Land

Eliot's Waste Land

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 11 2008 6:22 PM

Eliot's Waste Land

Eliot's waste land: After the disclosure Monday that he was involved in a high-priced prostitution ring, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer remained holed up in his Fifth Avenue apartment trying to decide whether to resign. (The latest reports suggest he won't resign Tuesday, if at all.) Many bloggers glory in the high-handed former state attorney general's comeuppance with a hooker named Kristen; others feel for his family. And if "Eliot Mess" is rung up on charges of violating the Mann Act, would that be anything like getting Al Capone on tax evasion?

Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy revels in the irony of how Spitzer got caught—by transferring suspicious amounts of money from banks, which then reported the transactions to the IRS: "Spitzer, aggressive former white collar crime prosecutor, was brought down because he couldn't outsmart banks looking for evidence of white collar crimes." But those same bank transfers have Jane Hamsher at firedoglake smelling conspiracy: "How did Spitzer's name get leaked to the media, and who did it? Didn't happen to Dave Vitter. Why did Mike Bloomberg suddenly start talking about running for governor recently? And why did he give $500,000 to Joe Bruno? He's good buddies with Mike Mukasey. What did he know and how did he know it?"

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At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey isn't buying Alan Dershowitz's claim that Spitzer is absolved from hypocrisy because he really wanted to legalize prostitution: "If Spitzer thought that prostitution should be legal, he has been in uniquely well-suited positions to make that argument. Instead, he positioned himself publicly as disgusted by the exploitation of women through prostitution, even campaigning on it. That isn't just a story about a married man going to a prostitute, it's a story of hypocrisy and deception." While Roger Kimball at Pajamas Media doesn't want Spitzer's hypocrisy to overshadow his other more significant shortcomings: "His behavior gives that ambiguous vice a bad name. … Really, he was a power-hungry, regulation-crazed functionary whose chief sin was to harness the power of the state to destroy his enemies and aggrandize himself. Had he been a little more hypocritical he might have been less dangerous."

Dan Slater at WSJ's Law Blog wonders "whether federal prosecutors will go after him at all. If they do, what will they charge him with? One theoretical possibility, as we alluded to yesterday: a violation under The Mann Act, which, broadly speaking, deals with prostitution and trafficking. Commentators aren't so sure this is where the feds are headed." Jennifer Rubin at Commentary's contentions writes: "[A] savvy ex- attorney general knows that in a prosecution of a public official (one potentially involving the Mann Act and financial hanky panky as well) a significant bargaining chip is the official's resignation from public office. Why would Spitzer leave without a deal with the feds on potential charges? It's not like he has shown a prediliction to put the interests of his family, his Party or his state above his own."

Liberal Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise accuses Spitzer of a "Nixonian level of hubris." "Regardless of what you think of the morality of paying for sex, and irrespective of whatever understanding Mr. and Mrs. Spitzer might have had, ... Eliot Spitzer was a self-indulgent fool to think that he could arrange for sex over the telephone and move his money around to cover it!"

This is all bad news for Hillary, given Spitzer's superdelegate support for her, right? Not so, says John Riley at Newsweek's Spin Cycle: "We think it actually hurts Obama. First, politically Bill Clinton's affair with an intern was great for Hillary, earning her both sympathy and respect for the way she handled it, and skyrocketing her public standing. Eliot and Silda Spitzer will put people back in touch with that same emotional reaction, reminding people who like Hillary of why they like Hillary."

At the Huffington Post's Eat the Press, media blogger Rachel Sklar has the Jewish media's take on the fall of Spitzer: "Oy, such a nice Jewish boy, on his way to becoming the first Jewish President! What's this girl's name, Kristen? Sigh. To think he threw it all away for a shiksa." The reliable Wonkette sums up the scandal thusly: "Spitzer got busted because the IRS thought he was moving money around to conceal a classier crime, like bribery. The lesson, we believe, is to always pay in cash."

At Portfolio's Daily Brief, Jeffrey Cane intersperses the affidavit detailing Spitzer's alleged behavior with his testimony to a House committee on bond insurance and the subprime mess—the reason he was in Washington in the first place. Ann Althouse rounds up video clips of the late-night talk-show hosts having their fun.

Read more about Spitzer's trouble with hookers. Slate's XX Factor has a lengthy discussion on all matters Spitzer, while Trailhead weighs the political implications for Hillary Clinton. Read the rest of Slate's coverage.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.