Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is long gone from the news. The Fed’s multi-billion dollar bailout of misbehaving bankers, which Spitzer was poised to contest, has trickled down into offshore accounts, and thousands more people who were conned, bullied, or given no choice about taking subprime mortgages have lost their homes. Hey, Bush said the richest one-tenth of one percent of the American public was his “core constituency,” unless Michael Moore totally faked that shot. The rest of us should be used to getting hind titty by now. But, now that the dust has settled, I think there are aspects of the story that bear further examination.
OK, here’s the story as I understand it:
On February 14, then-Governor Spitzer published an oped in the Washington Post, in which he made the following charges:
Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. This threat was so clear that as New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York’s, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.
What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.
Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye…..
….The federal government’s actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.
But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the (government) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.
Throughout our battles with the (government) and the banks, the mantra of the banks and their defenders was that efforts to curb predatory lending would deny access to credit to the very consumers the states were trying to protect. But the curbs we sought on predatory and unfair lending would have in no way jeopardized access to the legitimate credit market for appropriately priced loans. Instead, they would have stopped the scourge of predatory lending practices that have resulted in countless thousands of consumers losing their homes and put our economy in a precarious position.
When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners, the Bush administration will not be judged favorably. The tale is still unfolding, but when the dust settles, it will be judged as a willing accomplice to the lenders who went to any lengths in their quest for profits. So willing, in fact, that it used the power of the federal government in an unprecedented assault on state legislatures, as well as on state attorneys general and anyone else on the side of consumers.
This is perhaps the boldest accusation that has been made against the Bush junta by anyone who was actually in a position to do anything about it. Mr. Spitzer must have been in a very good mood that night because, as we now now, he spent several thousand dollars on a prostitute by way of celebration. Less than a month later, this indiscretion, and a string of others, were public knowledge, and Mr. Spitzer chose to resign as Governor of New York rather than fight the charges. The legal challenge he was leading seems to have sunk without a trace.
Those are the facts. Here are some more facts. Republican Sen. Larry “Wide Stance” Craig did not resign. Louisiana’s Republican Senator Jim “Diaper Me” Vitter did not resign. The fact that Dick Cheney’s phone number turned up in the black book of a Washington prostitution ring in the late 90’s did not prevent him from becoming the Vice President of the United States. In fact, that madam’s customer list was suppressed by court order. Republicans regularly cozy up to remarkably vile right-wing preachers and do not get called to account for it the way Barack Obama has had to deal with the aptly-named Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But Eliot Spitzer, and in his own mild way, Sen. Obama, are threats to the established order. Craig, Vitter, and Cheney are the established order. They can do what they please. Male prostitute Jeff Gannon can spend the night at the White House and nobody blinks. That’s the New World Order, folks. Nothin’ unusual goin’ on here. But if you gonna challenge it, you better have all your ducks in a row. All of ’em, and I mean it.
And here’s another fact: it is highly unusual for the name of a john in a prostitution case to be made public knowledge. But hey, if the Bush junta is willing to leak Valerie Plame’s name and destroy our national security network to get back at Joe Wilson, (and they did get away with it) why, no problem throwing Eliot under the bus to protect the banking class. Nobody that counts is gonna complain.
It is a bizarre spectacle, though–the Bush junta savagely defending a course of action that is destroying the world’s financial system, the US economy, and the lives of millions of middle-class Americans, many of whom probably voted Republican the last time they had a chance. (I don’t mean to ignore the fact that “destroying the world’s financial system” is hurting millions, if not billions, of people worldwide, but I gotta do some focusing here.) Really, the only ones who will see short-term benefit from this larceny are that upper tenth of one percent, Bush’s core constituency.
And long term? Do they think they can get away with this long term? Do they think they are wealthy enough to insulate themselves from the calamity they are creating in their psychotic drive to control everything? Apparently they do. The next question is whether or not they are correct in their presumption. As long as the American political landscape is dominated by pirates like them and milktoasts like Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, Harry Reid, Steny Hoyer, et al, the sad truth is, they probably can get away with it. Eliot Spitzer was not a milktoast, but he had a fatal flaw.
And I think no overview of this American tragedy would be complete without a close, but not prurient, look at Mr. Spitzer and his tailbrain. First of all, I think there both is and is not something inherently wrong with prostitution. The question has to be examined at two levels, the level of the world as it is and the level of the world as it could be.
In the world as it is, there is no reason why prostitution should not be legal. As with the drug question, removing the legal stigma involved would make it much easier to assure quality and prevent abuse. In Mr. Spitzer’s case, I think he was highly hypocritical to have prosecuted prostitution rings and then make use of one, but that’s the thing about men and our tailbrains. We decide what we want to do and our brain gives us reasons why it’s OK. Now, I don’t know the details of what Mr. Spitzer was willing to pay a woman a large percentage of my annual income to do for a couple of hours, but the word from the pimp, I hear, is that it was something “dirty,” probably something his wife said, “not with me, you don’t” about.
Hey, many of us have had to deal with partners who were more, as they say, “vanilla” than we are, and the things some people feel driven to do are sometimes strange and mysterious. Sex change operations often seem to fall into that category. Some guy who’s built like a linebacker decides God played a joke on him and he’s really a her. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and gobs of hormones later, you’ve got a thick-wristed, thick-waisted, broad shouldered person with an innie instead of an outie, and big tits with little nipples….hey, I’m getting way off topic here…probably my own subconscious…
Well, that’s one level of the prostitution/fidelity question. At a deeper level, I think we have to look at male orgasm and see it as the ur-addiction of our species. An addiction, yes. A compulsive, inappropriate behavior that causes more problems than it solves and is then repeated in hopes that it will solve more problems than it creates. Excuse me for sounding like some crazy radical feminist, but very nearly 100% of all men are addicted to orgasm. This addiction objectifies women, turning them into a fix instead of a person, and spawning (excuse the expression) alienation that pushes even the most dedicated lovers apart, not to mention millions of unwanted pregnancies and countless rapes, the institution of prostitution, and smelly, sticky goo in highly inappropriate locations. (think about a blue dress….)
Male orgasm is best reserved for occasions when babymaking is specifically intended, and certain other esoteric uses that are so far off the radar that I’m not going there and probably shouldn’t even have mentioned it. Male orgasm is a psycho-physical short circuit that dissipates concentrations of psychological energy that, if they were allowed to build, would force creative breakthroughs in mens’ psyches and improve the whole human race.
A bit of a disclaimer here. I am not preaching the Green Party platform for 2008 when I say this. But, inasmuch as our sexual behavior is the kernel of our personalities, and politics is nothing but psychology writ large, I think the Green Party had better start thinking in terms of sexual politics if we want to create a real change in America. Listen up, ya’ll!
Now, just as male orgasm is explosive and dissipating, female orgasm is implosive and builds energy. What men need to do is quit focusing on our own show-concluding jollies and learn to feel and appreciate the oceanic nature of female sexual pleasure. You can bet that ain’t what Eliot Spitzer was up to, for all his good points.
And that is just the deep meaning of Mr. Spitzer’s downfall. We can no longer venerate those whose public persona as our saviors and defenders is belied by their selfish and thoughtless private lives. We need heroes who are heroes from the depths of their insides all the way out. It’s no longer enough to be able to give a great speech or pass good legislation or even give all your material goods to those in need. We, and those who would lead us, need to be deeply genuine, a quality no PR firm can manufacture. Perhaps Mr. Spitzer will use his fall creatively, come back from the political graveyard, and use his considerable talents to be of real help. It would be a great second act.
music: Martin and Jessica Simpson, “Down Where the Drunkards Roll.” (song by Richard Thompson)