Governor Spitzer did not gain office on a promise to wipe out prostitution. His target was much more important, especially in a state that is the financial center of the nation: white-collar corporate crime. It has been reported that stockbrokers and corporate heads everywhere are rejoicing at the news of Spitzer’s embarrassment. It is quite a convenient coincidence that, out of the hundreds of thousands of men who hire hookers every day, it was the governor of New York who got caught at it. One wonders why federal prosecutors were spending time and money wiretapping prostitutes’ phones, or why they cared who their clients were. Was it their high price? Recalling that the US Justice Department is under much suspicion for being used by the Bush administration for political ends, it would be wise to seek answers to those questions.
There are some interesting absurdities in this case. The only reason there is a federal case against the governor is because of the Mann Act– an old and carelessly written law that makes it a federal crime to transport a woman across a state line for ‘immoral purposes’. It was originally intended as an anti-Mafia tool. Using it against the client of a callgirl who willingly commuted to a job in another city is ridiculous.
The initial reports used the phrase ‘involved in a prostitution ring‘. Now they add ‘as a client’. That is like saying if I write a check to pay a bill, I am ‘involved in the banking business‘.
If the media, and the voters, would learn to pay attention to the issues, the policies, and the honesty of public officials, not their personal lives, we would be much more likely to make the right choices. Though they love the juicy tittilating story that grabs an audience, news media do have a responsibility to keep things in perspective.
The politicians themselves need to summon up the courage to stand firm. If their personal problems will not prevent them for doing the job they were elected for, or are running for, they should not resign. They should be honest about it, and make it clear that the matter should be dropped. Bill Clinton’s only mistake was in not saying, ‘Sure, Monica gave me a blow job. Get over it.‘ Nevertheless, though it was a distraction, it did not prevent him from completing his term.
Governor Spitzer should not resign. Whether he stays in office or not should be solely up to the voters of New York.