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Friday, March 14, 2008

THE IDES OF MARCH, 2008

I can’t think of a more appropriate winner of this year’s “Ides of March Laurel & Dagger Award” than “The Spritz”, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, the “Sheriff of Wall Street”, Time Magazine’s “Crusader of the Year “for 2002, the man the New York Times described as the very definition of “…ambition and relentlessness…a prosecutorial avenger”, whom the Wall Street Journal condemned as “The Lord High Executioner”. He was elected in November of 2006 with a 69% plurality (Hint, hint) and then retreated to a 25% approval rating by December of 2007: and then in four more short days in March he went from “Elliot Ness” to “Elliot Mess”, and inspired my favorite headline from the past 12 months; the New York Post’s plaintive, “Ho, No!”
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And if there is anybody out there who has yet to drink the “Obama kool-aide” or the “Hillary hemlock”, or even those on the right willing to down a “McCain Viagra Stinger” in their hunger for political power, they might take note that humorless sanctimonious egotistical hypocrites are just as common on the left as on the right. Read some blogs if you doubt it. So many angry people who expect politics to solve injustice. But the reality is that what Bush and “The Spritz” and Obama and Aaron Burr all have in common is that they are (or were) all politicians. They give speeches, they don’t do justice. You would think that over the last 2,500 years that observation would have been made by more people.
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Julius Caesar was awarded the first L&D in 44 B.C. when the Roman Senate imposed term limits on him. It was a cruel death, and the best that could be said for it is that when Caesar died he was surrounded by allies. They were all holding knives, but if politics is based on loyalty and trust it is also true that no politician ever gets ahead without sacrificing a few friends now and again. The difference between a good politician and a great politician is the quality of the friends they leave “twisting slowly in the wind”, to quote Chuck Colson. In the end Caesar’s enemies were almost his equals, while the New York Governor was surrounded by nothing but sycophants and timid ass-kissers. If they weren’t powerful enough to restrain him, they were also not powerful enough to prop him up.
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This is why I have always admired Alcibiades, the first retroactive posthumous winner of the L&D, almost 400 years before Julius Caesar betrayed his last ally, Lucius Lucceius. But Alcibiades was far more cunning than Caesar and was perhaps the greatest politician until Abraham Lincoln. Alcibiades was devastatingly handsome and brilliantly devious. And he was no sexual hypocrite. He was willing to sleep with anybody (including Socrates and Plato and a Spartan Queen) to gain a political advantage. It must have taken considerable courage to enter “Helen’s den” and Socrates’ bed, but power was the only bedmate Alcibiades ever really lusted after. And he seems to have had that lust for power in common with "The Spitz". Alcibiades’ only weakness was that throughout his life he was convinced he was the only man qualified to lead Athens. He was usually right but this constant conviction also handicapped him: as it did “The Spitz” - except that after having been screwed over once by “Client Number Nine” no politician was ever willing to go to bed with him again; while Athens repeatedly surrendered to Alcibiades’ charms - they always regretted it in the morning but they climbed into bed with him anyway.
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It isn’t like "The Spitz" has the New York monopoly for lying to the voters or committing crimes. The Brooklyn D.A. has video of Democratic Assemblywoman Diane Gordon agreeing to a $2 million bribe, Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun sponsored a bill to strengthen anti-stalking laws just before pleading guilty to two counts of stalking, and Democratic State Senator Efrain Gonzalez is accused of using half a million dollars of taxpayer money to buy Yankee tickets, pay or his daughter’s schooling and prop up his cigar company, and all of these politicians are still in office. But "The Spitz" is already gone. Why?
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This priggish egomaniac told his opposition foe, the New York Republican Assembly leader, “I’m a fucking steamroller, and I’ll roll over you.” No wonder then that Billionaire Mort Zuckerman, owner of the Daily News, noted “The Spitz’s” monumental stupidity. “I don't know of anybody…that hasn't been totally stupefied by it,” he said. Zuckerman’s newspaper refereed to the end of “The Spitz’s” “Reign of Error”, and his sudden journey from “Sex Gov to Ex Gov”, and in its own succinct headline, “Spitz Quits”. One Bloomberg writer noted that "The Spritz", “Like many scolds …seemed to believe his burning pursuit of right, justified …his boorishness, (and) the overweening use of his offices…” In the end the tune "The Spitz" danced to was not “They Shot The Sheriff”, but “The Sheriff Shot Himself”. And lady irony demonstrated once again that many of those who live by the sword have a hard time keeping their swords sheathed when they really ought to.
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And on a side note, this coming April Fool’s day Union College was supposed to host “A Conversation About the Future of Schenectady with Silda Wall Spitzer”, the Governor’s lovely wife and mother of his two daughters. But by Wednesday of last week some OC sufferer on the college’s staff had sent out a note announcing the event was postponed “...due to events at the State Capital”: so much for prostitution being a victimless crime. Still, Nora Ephron, who has some familiarity with betrayal by a husband, could observe, “… should he stay on, Spitzer will probably have far more time to focus on being governor, in that he won't have to spend hours on the phone with someone named Temeka arguing over his 55 per cent deposit, his in-store credit, the cash limits on bank machine withdrawals in late-night Washington, and ways for Kristen the prostitute to get into his hotel room without her having to give her name at the check-in desk downstairs….It's one of the things you have to admire about Senator Larry Craig: he's still there. And who can say he's doing a better or worse job than he was before? And compared to whom in the United States Senate?"
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Yes, everybody has an opinion about “The Spitz’s” public self immolation. Roger Simon, on The Politico, observed, “To paraphrase an old joke, if stupidity ever gets to $200 a barrel, I want drilling rights to Elliot Spitzer’s head…(his) behavior was completely loony. Even if he never imagined being caught…didn’t he ever worry…one of the prostitutes might try to sell her story to a supermarket tabloid…?” The Wonkette noted that Virgin Airlines will be running a full page ad in the Toronto Metro showing “The Spitz” with a thought bubble reading, “I’m tired of being treated like a number.” And on the Huffington Post, Bill Maher ranted, “I’m going to throw the remote through the TV if one more news twink says something on the order of "…what drives a successful man like Eliot Spitzer to risk it all..." …..Let me help you: because he wants to get his nut off!” Hollywood Madam want-to-be Heidi Fleisch, being fairly simple herself, made it all sound fairly simple. "What's the mystery? If the guy wants to get laid, he wants to get laid."
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For myself, I suspect that if you look up “Schmuck” in that great dictionary in the sky you will find it illustrated by a picture of "The Spitz". The closest anyone came to actually defending Governor Schmuck Face was Joe Scarborough, ex-GOP moralist, who wondered, “We're in a war on terror, for god's sake, and you're wiretapping hookers?" Listen, with friends like Morning Joe you don’t need enemies. And to top it all off last year Governor Spitzer signed a new state law which more than doubled the sentence for solicitation of prostitution. Its not often you can say, “Thank God he was busted by the Feds”. But a newly unemployed staffer for “The Spitz” had the final word on "The Spitz's" moral transgression when he observed, “He got laid. We got screwed.”
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So the winner of this year’s “Ides of March Laurel and Dagger Award” is Ex-to be New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, schmuck supreme, jackass juggernaut, prick & prig personified, the biggest ass in government at the moment, "The Spritz". And the sooner he is out of the news for good the better for everybody concerned. It is as if Shakespere had forced poor old Julius Caesar to mumble, “Et tu, Julius?”
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