Why was the left so mean when it went after Larry Craig, among others? Why, some said, would those who described themselves as broadminded be so adverse to a wide stance among their politicians? They failed to see that the issue was not Mr. Craig’s sexual orientation, nor even his relationship with his family, but his advocacy for policies that his experiences would seem to completely contradict. In other words, he was a victim of his own political positions.
It doesn’t particularly bother me that Elliot Spitzer, as the New York Times is reporting, made use of the Emperors Club VIP (“Every client is an emperor… ” even if he’s only a governor), a high-priced prostitution service. The public loves a sex scandal, and no doubt this will be front-page news for some time. There are lots of reasons Spitzer should be held to the fire for this. First, he violated the law when he was charged with enforcing it. I think that alone is the biggest issue. The cops in our neighborhood rarely bother to stop for red lights, even when it’s pretty clear they aren’t on their way somewhere, and I’ve seen a lot of near-misses for that reason. You expect those sworn to uphold the law to apply that to themselves as well.
The second issue, whether he violated the trust of his spouse, is chiefly, in my opinion, a private matter. The public does have a right to judge the character of their leaders, but how someone relates to their family is really only the family’s business.
I suppose you could suggest that the money that was spent was a waste of his taxpayer-supplied salary. After all, these were not inexpensive professionals (though the claim of $5,500 an hour seems to contradict the agency’s price list). But I don’t think this has a lot of traction.
The biggest issue seems to be that Spitzer made prostitution rings a special target of prosecution. This, to me, raises a lot of pretty substantial issues: most pointedly whether this group received protection in trade for their services. Even the appearance of this besmirches his office, his reputation, and the reputation of the state of New York.
What it doesn’t change is my opinion that prostitution should be legalized. I am perfectly capable of condemning Spitzer for hypocrisy and for breaking the law, and at the same time recognize that what he did shouldn’t have been illegal. Too bad he couldn’t stand up for what he thought was right, either by not patronizing sex workers, or advocating for legal structures (i.e., legalization) that would provide them with fuller access to the law.