Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March 11, 2008

     "Day one," Eliot Spitzer proclaimed as he took office as New York's governor, "everything changes."  But nah.  Everything stayed about the same.
     You can see all the ghosts standing beside him as he admitted sin.  Larry Craig, a senator, talking about that airport men's room;  David Vitter, another senator, talking about being with a prostitute.  Or further back:  Gary Hart, a presidential hopeful, photographed aboard the good ship Monkey Business;  Bill Clinton, an actual president, "No, I did not have sex with that woman. Monica Lewinsky."  But you lied, sir, and we all learned about the presidential semen stain on Ms. Lewinsky's blue dress.  Once upon a time it was different.  Franklin Roosevelt had a mistress, John Kennedy had affairs, and reporters didn't write about them.  But that was a very long time ago, not now.
     These guys--Spitzer and the rest--all knew that, of course, and went ahead anyway.  I've never seen any statistics, but I suspect that if you're an average guy with an average life, your chances of committing adultery undetected are pretty good.  But if reporters and photographers follow you around, that isn't true.  And these guys--Spitzer and the rest--all knew that too.  So why run the risk? 
     Maybe arrogance is part of it. Politicians have to take risks, simply by running for office.  And if you win, you may think, hey, I'm pretty good, I can do just about anything.  Spitzer apparently called himself "The Steamroller," a description of his success in clearing away obstacles, I think, not of his technique in bed. So now here he is, father of three teen-aged daughters, with Republicans demanding that he quit.
     Clinton, Craig, and Vitter didn't quit.  Hart ran for president saying, "Let the voters decide."  They did;  they weren't for him.  Now it's Spitzer's turn.  But in or out, we know how he'll be remembered.
     To paraphrase an old song: "Where have all the young pols gone?/ Gone to girlfriends every one./ When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"   


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