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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Couldn't They Tell?

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After hearing about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's admission yesterday of his involvement with a prostitution ring my first reaction was: Oh, so that's what its going to be. By that I mean I was somewhat surprised about the particulars of the revelation but I can't say that I was surprised that Spitzer, well known as arrogant, heavy-handed, mean, vindictive, egotistical and just plain unpleasant, had managed to shoot himself in the foot.

When I heard that he'd been elected, and in a landslide yet, I thought that it was just a matter of time before he would do something stupid, really stupid. Not that Spitzer himself is stupid. Far from it. Scoring a very impressive 1590 on his SATs Spitzer went on to Princeton U. undergrad before going to Harvard Law where he edited the Harvard Law Review. And his ambition has been the equal of his brains. Eliot Spitzer has never missed an opportunity to make an impression, always going after the high profile, big pr cases; going after pregnancy crisis centers to please New York's pro-abortion Left, payola in the music industry, big shot businessmen. He was a legal Master of the Universe. So taken with his own gifts and position was he that he thought anything he did was acceptable merely by virtue of the fact that he did it. He'd make calls threatening people, inappropriately used the State Police to investigate his chief nemesis, Republican State Minority Leader, Joseph L. Bruno, arrogantly issued an unpopular executive order allowing driver's licenses to be issued to illegal aliens.

He was also widely despised by almost everybody who ever had the bad fortune to have dealt with him, which explains why so few people are willing to come to his defense now. So when news came yesterday that he had finally imploded, it was not exactly the year's biggest shock.

What does surprise me however is the way the American people continue to elect catastrophes waiting to happen like Spitzer. Here's a confession: I'm not a genius; just a fairly regular guy (despite being "Right" so dang often) but I knew this guy was, what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah...a freak. Couldn't the 69% of voters who put Spitzer in office see this, too? Apparently not.

But Americans have a long and impressive history of voting for dysfunctional politicians. The last fifty years alone have produced such giants of history as Louisiana Governor Earl Long, who was committed to a mental hospital while in office; Cincinnati city council member and then Mayor Jerry Springer (yes, that Jerry Springer) who resigned after a revelation of his patronizing (surprise!) a prostitute; Washington DC Mayor and crack addict Marion Barry; President Richard Nixon, whose paranoia and generally warped psyche have been fodder for books for decades and Bill Clinton, a self involved narcissist whose entire Presidency was about one thing and one thing only: him. All that is missing from each of these distinguished gents is a day glow etching of the words HELP ME on their foreheads.

Now it is a truism that bright, talented people who seek office often have gargantuan egos. Ronald Reagan was that rarity among rarities who was both an actor and a politician, both lines of work which attract egomaniacs, who was actually well adjusted.

The public can be forgiven for not spotting some political rotten apples. In the ordinary course of life everybody gets surprised by the behavior of some of the people they thought they knew, so politics, too can be expected to provide the unexpected now and then. But how do you explain an Eliot Spitzer? I wish I could provide an answer here but the subject of the election of stone cold losers doesn't come with any. It just comes with one big question for those who put them in office: What were you thinking?


jtm2005 said...

Would you run for office?

A few people have asked me if I would consider running for office and my answer has always been that I have too much self-respect (and too much respect for my family) to put myself (or them) through the election and campaign process. Or, if elected, endure the scrutiny and punishment that comes from being a public political figure.

Observing why a normal, rational person like you and I do NOT run for office might enlighten us to the psyche that make up those that do.

Sadly I think the days of running for office and holding a public seat as a way of contributing to the community has passed. Those that serve today are usually serving themselves (and their egos) and NOT the public.

Wanna have fun the next time you meet a politician? Call them a servant. I did it once and it was hilarious to see how self-important the fella was great!

Nocomme1 said...

Would I run for office? God, no. I think your reasons for not being willing to run are completely valid but I actually think that there are philosophical reasons for not running, too: unlike a liberal I don't think that govt should be at the leading edge of "societal evolution" as a great radio personality says, so I don't see govt service as being that high a calling. If I ever ran I would do so to put myself out of business by devolving many of the govt's responsibilities back to the people and to the marketplace.

Hmm. Might be a good subject for a future post.