Pages Menu
TwitterRssFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Mar 11, 2008 in At TMV | 24 comments

Hypocrisy and Moralism: The Fall of Eliot Spitzer and the Rise of the Double Standard

(See my previous post here for background and initial comments.)

Greenwald asks: “Who cares if Eliot Spitzer hires prostitutes?” — “[A]re there actually many people left who care if an adult who isn’t their spouse hires prostitutes? Are there really people left who think that doing so should be a crime, that adults who hire other consenting adults for sex should be convicted and go to prison?”

Well, yes, I suspect there are many people who care. America’s retrograde views on sex and sexuality are still quite prevalent, after all.

Now, whether such views should or should not be prevalent is another matter, and Glenn is right to question those views. As I mention in my previous post, I think prostitution laws should generally be relaxed — or, let’s be blunt about it, overturned (with restrictions, of course, and highly regulated).

I certainly agree with Glenn that sex with a prostitute (consensual sex for money generally) does not warrant prosecution and imprisonment, and, legally, Spitzer should be treated like anyone else. But I do not agree that, non-legally, he should be treated like anyone else. He is the governor of New York, after all, a prominent politician, a Democratic leader. Like it or not, we do need to hold our leaders to higher standards than we do most private citizens. We must be able to trust our leaders — and is not one of our key criticisms of Bush and those around him? And we certainly do not want our leaders hiring prostitutes.

As liberal as I am on sexual matters — and I am extremely liberal, I suppose — I think Spitzer was right when he said he broke his obligations, including his public ones.

Now, does this warrant resignation? No, maybe not. I’d like to know more about what happened before answering that question. My initial reaction is: probably not. (And the same goes for Republicans like Craig and Vitter.)

Is Spitzer a hypocrite? Yes. That much is clear. But, as I wrote in a comment to my post linked above, what bothers me is that he is being treated differently than Republicans (and conservatives generally) who find themselves in similar situations. What they do is deny, then un-deny, then find God and repent (sincerely or not), and express contrition (genuine or not), then blitz the media seeking forgiveness, looking and sounding pathetic and forlorn, then go on with their careers, all forgiven, all forgotten. And what about someone like Gingrich? While Bill Clinton was being persecuted by Republicans, Gingrich among them, he was engaging in rather inappropriate behaviour, at least from the perspective of the moralists. And did Gingrich suffer for it? Hardly. And he is not alone.

This is not to excuse Spitzer, just to note that the hypocrisy is political as well as personal. Republicans, including (or especially) the rabid moralists among them, seem to be able to get away with it, hiding behind their God and lashing out at the “liberal” media when their “sins” are exposed, while Democrats like Spitzer (or Gary Hart, or Bill Clinton, etc.) are treated to the moralistic wrath and partisan hypocrisy of the right and the blatant double standards of the media — and the hand-wringing of some on the left.

Let us await more details before judging Spitzer, but let us not accept how he is being treated, and how he will continue to be treated, by the moralists and hypocrites on the right and in the media.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • EEllis

    What happens with Repubs is that they are ostracized by their peers and have zero chance to ever be reelected. What happens with Dems is that they say it’s not really a big deal and blame Repubs for making it so. I’m not a Repub tho I’m generally conservative and personal the hypocrisy of statements like these is absurd.

  • PaulSilver

    EEllis,
    Perhaps it is relevant that the GOP specifically and prominently touts their morality to their constituents and so the failure of personal weakness results in the perception of a far greater fall.

  • Slamfu

    While I’m sure the GOP was hoping a dem would get caught with another man or even a boy to take the heat off their party, if I were them I sure wouldn’t waste this golden opportunity either. You know whose realy pathetic in these cases? The wives who stick by these cheating dirtbags. Just once at a press conference instead of keeping their eyes on the ground when they aren’t speaking I’d like to see one of them whip out a frying pan from a purse and crack their husbands over the head while cameras are rolling. I’d maybe even vote for Hillary if she’d done that with Bill.

  • Slamfu

    Oh and yes I think he should resign. While I agree with you many GOP finger waggers like Gingrich are total hippocrites, it does not mean that democrats get a free pass for their indescretions. What he did was wrong, and very destructive to his family. I am pretty liberal when it comes to consenting adults as well, but I would never condone a married man cheating on his wife. Liberal doesn’t mean anything goes.

  • I discussed this issue in a post at Why We Worry today. We both agree that the prostitution laws make little sense and that Spitzer is a hypocrite nonetheless.

    I do think you’re wrong about a media double standard though. Gingrich is no longer in Congress. No one takes Larry Craig seriously. Bill Clinton had to run the gauntlet, but he survived more popular than ever.

    One thing that might make a difference in this case is that Spitzer isn’t exactly as popular as Bill Clinton.

  • “I am pretty liberal when it comes to consenting adults as well, but I would never condone a married man cheating on his wife.”

    You’ve lost me here. You think prostitution should be legal, but you think he should lose his job for cheating on his wife?

  • Slamfu

    Yes, I just think married men should not be using them. I also don’t think married men should sleep with other women that are willing to have sex with them for free. See how that works?

  • DLS

    “You know whose realy pathetic in these cases? The wives who stick by these cheating dirtbags.”

    Oh, that’s so “repressed,” [sic] so “regressive,” [sic] …

  • Slamfu

    I guess the above post just covers the moral angle. As far as the legal angle goes using hookers is against the law whether I think it should be or not. Considering he runs the law in NYC I think he should abide by its rules as well. I suppose its a misdimeanor so not worth an impeachment, but its a serious breach as far as trust goes. Hence, he should resign. Especially considering he’s put people behind bars for just this kind of activity. If you actually prosecuted people for this crap, I think you should have some of your own medicine if you can’t behave by the rules as well.

  • “Yes, I just think married men should not be using them. I also don’t think married men should sleep with other women that are willing to have sex with them for free. See how that works?”

    But you should lose your job for that? Should a CEO resign if he is found cheating on his wife?

  • Slamfu

    A CEO is not beholden to an electorate, nor in charge of enforcing the laws in a city.

  • DLS

    “What he did was wrong, and very destructive to his family.”

    It obviously was not “victimless.” Not to mention hypocritical, which actually is less important here among better-raised people, though grounds itself for demands he resign.

    The abusive “fucking steamroller” dirtbag just struck an IED. Good riddance.

  • “A CEO is not beholden to an electorate, nor in charge of enforcing the laws in a city.”

    I’m not taking exception to the idea that Spitzer is unfit to enforce the laws of the state, having broken them. I’m just intrigued by the idea that cheating on your wife should cost you your job whether or not it’s illegal.

  • Slamfu

    Well there is a distinction to be made in the public and private sectors. Elected officials are not there to make sure society turns a profit and grows double digits each year to sustain shareholder values. They are there to make sure society works, and there are many factors like trust as well as skill go into that. I personally loathe hippocrites and don’t think they make solid decisions. They are also intrinsically untrustworthy due to their unbelievable skills at rationalization.

    I would say the better case for wanting him to resign is his hypocrisy, which I would also apply to a CEO come to think of it. Cheating is itself hypocrisy, but Spitzer’s is augmented by the fact he actually, personally put people in jail for this shit. He can walk on.

  • cosmoetica

    DLS: ‘It obviously was not “victimless.”‘

    Who is the victim of the sex act? Spitzer? The call girl? The wife? Getting feelings hurt does not make one a victim- a pitiable or pathetic person, perhaps- esp. if she forgives him. But there was no victim.

  • superdestroyer

    I find it amazing that so-called progressive who talk about women’s right and political correctness have now become libertarians when it comes to prostitution. Prostittuion exploits women and cuts them off from many other futures. You want a culture where people put off immediate gratification for long term gains. Working as a prostitute is the exact opposite.

    I would love to see the proposal for OSHA regulations on prostitutions from the progressives who now claim to want to legalize prostitution.

    Also, I wonder if Europe is more tolerate because Europe is more open about people being locked into their class. In the U.S., people do not want their daughters growing up to be prostitutes. In Europe, it is the job of immigrants and the underclass to be prostitutes.

  • kritt11

    I’m torn on this issue. I think a politician’s sex life should be off bounds (unless he’s a pedophile or rapist ) but when the pol takes a holier than thou attitude with the unwashed masses but gives his own behavior a pass, it is rather unforgivable.
    I could forgive Clinton, because he wasn’t thundering against adulterers. Spitzer joins Wolfowitz in the brilliant but brain-dead category.

  • CStanley

    Read the paragraph about how “Republicans handle these things” again. Does anyone notice that it’s (step by step) EXACTLY the way Bill Clinton ‘handled these things”? And no, I’m not using the “Clinton did it too” argument- MS was actually the one who brought up Clinton. Stunningly, he found it possible to write out EXACTLY what Bill Clinton did after the Lewinsky affair became public knowledge, yet failed to notice that what he wrote to describe GOP behavior was precisely what Clinton did, and then followed up with a sentence about how Clinton was persecuted by Gingrich.

    Gingrich was hypocritical, so I’m not arguing that. Though the part about how he didn’t suffer for it? You mean the former Speaker of the House who is now holding um….what elected position, exactly? Does anyone deny that Gingrich would have been a likely successor to Reagan had he not had his fall from grace?

  • CStanley

    Concerning the wives of these politicians, I had a thought. I’d love to see the next guy who gets caught with trousers down having to come out (alone) at the press conference with a sandwich board around his neck reading “My wife refused to appear with me today because I’m a prick.”

  • kritt11

    I think most of these wives already are aware of the slimy behavior of their husbands. The kicker is to have to stand nobly by their sides suffering unending public embarrassment and humiliation.

    I’m not trying to be sexist or anything, but this problem seems much more prominent with male politicians who let power go to their heads.

  • CStanley

    I agree, Kim, which is why I’d love to see the placard I described (or maybe a big ‘scarlet P’!

    As to power going to their heads….well, someone’s got to give the punchline after that straight line, so I’ll take care of it:
    Which head would that be? 😀

  • cosmoetica

    SD: ‘I find it amazing that so-called progressive who talk about women’s right and political correctness have now become libertarians when it comes to prostitution. Prostittuion exploits women and cuts them off from many other futures.’

    The sex business is one of the few areas where women can control their financial stake more than others- just look at the call girl ring Spitzer used. A 23 year old woman became a millionaire.

    Put away the claptrap and Linda Lovelace agitprop. There’s a reason why porno dominates the Internet- there’s a huge audience, male and female for it. Like any biz, there CAN be exploitation, but compared to corporate America, there is no glass ceiling in porno.

  • kritt11

    It’s true that there are few other professions where a woman can earn $5500 an hour! What do they do for that kind of money? You could work 10 hours a year and still live pretty well!

  • CStanley

    Kim, are you thinking about a career change? 😉

    Keep in mind that the $5500, as I understand it, was what the agency charged. I have no idea how much goes to management and how much the ‘worker’ actually receives. Of course even a 20% cut of that would be a pretty big hourly rate, but I still think it bears mentioning. Personally I think the girls end up giving up far more than they get, and no amount of financial compensation could make up for that, but others may disagree on that point. I actually think that men who visit prostitutes or those who condone it are engaging in rationalization, and perhaps the high fees make them feel less like they’re exploiting the women. Trouble is that no matter how much money is paid for services, there isn’t a price that can ameliorate the humiliation of selling one’s body.

Twitter Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com