Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Spitzer Scandal: Lust Plus Pride

from Times
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer alongside wife Silda holds a news conference at his Manhattan office in New York City, USA on March 10, 2008, after it was announced that he has been involved in a prostitution ring.

The allegations could be particularly damaging to Spitzer, a former hard-nosed prosecutor who had made ferreting out corporate malfeasance and cracking down on corruption centerpieces of his political platform. "It's going to be really difficult for him to move on," says Justin Phillips, a state politics expert at Columbia University in New York City. "He had framed himself as someone who fought against corruption." His political opponents were quick to capitalize on the dissonance between the image he embraced and the figure he cut on Monday. "He has disgraced his office and the entire state of New York," James Tedisco, the state assembly's minority leader, told reporters. "He should resign his office immediately."

When Spitzer finally addressed the Emperors Club charges in a delayed and brief non-denial before the assembled media on Monday afternoon, the governor said, "I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas." But if these accusations do spell the end of Spitzer as an individual in political life, his ideas — of reform and clean governance in Albany — had already stalled because of a different cardinal sin: not Luxuria (Lust), as in Monday's scandal, but Superbia (Pride). Spitzer's Superbia had rankled old and new in Albany, certainly the Republican majority in the statehouse, but also many Democrats who were astounded at his prickly partisanship and how it cut off all lines of communication between the executive mansion and the state assembly.

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