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"Why Hillary Is Silent on Spitzer":

GayPatriot expresses one view (thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer); Rosa Brooks at Slate's XX Factor and Christopher Beam at Slate also opine, with Brooks faulting Clinton for her (relative) silence.

Here's my quick off-the-cuff thought: There's something very sad about Spitzer's downfall -- an intelligent and successful man undone by his appetites, a lifetime of ambition and fighting largely squandered for a few moments of pleasure.

Those who disapprove of Spitzer on various grounds may well feel some vindication and schadenfreude, and they may be right to some extent. (I haven't followed Spitzer's career closely, but my guess is that I'd share their condemnation of much that Spitzer has done.) But surely one can't expect most liberal or liberalish Democrats, including both Hillary and Hillary's base, to feel that way. To them this is a sad occasion, the ruin of a man with whom they may have worked, and whom they likely respect in considerable measure (even if they have had difficulties with him, as Hillary has).

It thus seems to me that Spitzer's political allies might feel, both as a matter of kindness and of loyalty, that they should keep quiet rather than condemning Spitzer, or using his fall as occasion for some broader substantive discussion (for instance, "about what it's like to be a woman in a world where too many of her male peers think sex is a perk of the job"). If it emerges that Spitzer wants to continue in office in spite of his actions, then I think at some point fellow Democrats should speak out against him. But it looks like he's already being punished enough. I can certainly see why his allies might not want to pile on, and might not want to be seen by others as piling on.

On top of that, my sense is that Hillary has an extra problem: Any substantive statements she makes on this topic seem likely to play into the common public image of her as schoolmarmish and scolding. Yet another reason, I think, for her to stay as silent as possible.

Now there may well be other reasons as well, such as those mentioned by GayPatriot. My point is simply that there are so many reasons that it's hard to identify any as the main one -- and hard to condemn Hillary for doing what seems to be the more loyal and kind as well as the more politically savvy thing to do.

Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

an intelligent and successful man undone by his appetites


A thug, bully, and elitist above the law... and he's still my governor. This guy had no problem extra-legally ruining people who knew what they were doing, and the lack of them is felt now by everyday people who relied on them.
3.11.2008 7:54pm
Paul Milligan (mail) (www):
There's a limit to how much Hillary can stomp on Spitzer, who was a major supporter of hers, other than to erase his name from her websites, which I understand he has done.

As to Spitzer himself - he campaigned on his Daddy's money ( Daddy's a billionare ), and on a persona of 'Mr. Clean'. He went after, among other things, prostitution rings. He also was a complete bully, as starts to come to light, threatening to destroy anyone he didnt' like by innuendo and false prosecution.

Then it turns out he's a whore-monger of long standing himself. Nice.

It'll be interesting to see how much, if any, he was being blackmailed, as is currently floating around. Certainly anyone who knew about it - the women, the pimps, the drivers, etc, had him by the nuts.
3.11.2008 7:57pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
As to why no Hilary, Spitzer is contagiously radioactive right now in an election cycle- and the sex thing is too similar to Ol' Bubba, for that matter.
3.11.2008 7:58pm
Paul Milligan (mail) (www):
If you'll pardon the turn of phrase.
3.11.2008 7:59pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

It'll be interesting to see how much, if any, he was being blackmailed, as is currently floating around.


Excercising great conjecture, I wonder if boxing up one prostitution ring wasn't a favor for the rings he was involved in.
3.11.2008 7:59pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Can an advisor tell a candidate, "Your common public image is schoolmarmish and scolding, so we'd better take a pass on this one."?
3.11.2008 8:00pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Can't Hillary at least say, "My heart and feelings go out to Mrs. Spitzer, cast into the glare of the public spotlight through no fault of her own, forced to endure the embarassment her husband brought on her. I feel her pain."?

Her only hope of beating Obama is to get people to feel sorry for her like they did when Lewinsky was the 24hr/day story. Saying something like this would remind people.

Or she can wait until Spitzer announces he got the initial introduction from Bill...
3.11.2008 8:12pm
Shelby (mail):
Richard: Bill might.
3.11.2008 8:12pm
boneTired:
After Lawrence, I don't see the problem. They were consenting adults. Maybe an exchange of money is their foreplay. The cold cash is kind of a sex toy. ... What's that 5th Circuit case?

This is much ado about nothing, but I'm happy to see the man go.

And his wife?! What kind of a moron is she that she felt obligated to stand next to the man for the press? It was his wrong; he should have stood there alone. Standing next to him some how suggests that she approves of his actions. Of course, maybe she does. See Lawrence.
3.11.2008 8:16pm
alias:
I agree with everything but this:

But it looks like he's already being punished enough.

What possible excuse could he have for doing it and why did he think he'd get away with it?
3.11.2008 8:20pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
A thug, bully, and elitist above the law... and he's still my governor. This guy had no problem extra-legally ruining people who knew what they were doing, and the lack of them is felt now by everyday people who relied on them.


Sounds a lot like Mike Hatch, our former AG who kept trying to use the office as a stepping stone to run for governor. He had no qualms about abusing the office to bully local companies into making “settlements” on bogus charges (sometimes even knowingly lying about them during press conferences) that consisted of making “contributions” to his approved “charities.” He finally to get the DFL nomination in 2006 but there were enough people in his own party who hated the SOB* that Tim Pawlenty managed to barely get reelected while Republicans lost every other State-wide race.

* When Hatch was first elected as AG, he took over from Skip Humphrey, another DFLer and apparently fired all of Humphrey’s people to bring in his own. Legend has it that he had security escort them out of the building immediately onto the street and then escort them in one at a time to get their things. His hand-picked deputies had a reputation for using the office to promote their boss' gubernatorial aspirations which didn't sit well with Minnesotans who pride ourselves on "clean{er) government."
3.11.2008 8:23pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Standing next to him some how suggests that she approves of his actions.


I don't really understand the decision to literally stand by her man, either, but I don't that accompanying someone making a public apology suggests approval of whatever it is they are apologizing for.
3.11.2008 8:33pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):


I agree with everything but this:

But it looks like he's already being punished enough.


Eliot Spitzer would apparently agree given how he used to make jokes about what would happen to the guys he prosecuted if they went to prison.
3.11.2008 8:35pm
LM (mail):
There's certainly something tragic to go along with the schadenfreude at the fall of moralizers like Foley, Vitter, Craig and now Spitzer, (don't forget the evangelicals e.g., Swaggart, Haggard). The hypocrisy is plain enough, but they also seem to share a self-destructive, thrill-seeking compulsion to tempt fate by peering into the abyss they warn the rest of us off from.

I'll bet Hillary and many other liberals know Spitzer well enough to be convinced his moralizing about the evils of the prostitution rings he busted, while completely at odds with his behavior, was sincere. Likewise for the criticism of Foley and the rest, which blared from the left and was muted from the right. Maybe only those close enough to know them well were convinced they actually believed what they preached and in some cases legislated against, despite succumbing to the lure of their own demons.

It all suggests a rather more cynical commentary than I think actually applies. It looks like we reserve compassion for those we trust, and trust for those we agree with. But I'd at least like to believe the disparate responses have as much to do with proximity and familiarity as with ideology.
3.11.2008 8:42pm
Public_Defender (mail):
I largely agree with Professor Volokh, but I think while Hillary et al. don't have to immediately comment, they do eventually.

Sometimes off-the-cuff condemnations turn out to be hyperbolic. So it's often prudent to sit back, watch, and wait a few days or a few weeks. The world will survive without an immediate condemnation.

That said, I'm not as willing to let him off by saying prostitution is inherently consensual. Maybe it is at the rates he was paying, but the prostitutes I see in my felony cases are usually my clients' victims--becoming prostitutes only after childhood sexual abuse or other coercion. Their John's had no way of distinguishing them from prostitutes who just wanted to make a few bucks.

This is one area where the Religious Right has it right. I can see the theoretical libertarian arguments to legalize prostitution, but in the real world, all too often, we just can't distinguish between a voluntary prostitute and one coerced into prostituting herself.
3.11.2008 8:43pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"But it looks like he's already being punished enough."

I agree. However, I observe he didn't think public humiliation was punishment enough for the people he prosecuted. He wanted lots more from them. He wanted fines, prison, and the power to set regulations for the financial industry as he saw fit. There is really no reason I am aware of to prosecute him, but we can and should take our political pound of flesh.
3.11.2008 8:45pm
Cornellian (mail):
And his wife?! What kind of a moron is she that she felt obligated to stand next to the man for the press? It was his wrong; he should have stood there alone.

Well to be fair to the wife, we don't know anything about the history between the two of them. She certainly wouldn't be the first wife to stay with a guy who cheated and we're not in a position to judge that decision without knowing what she knows. Besides, even if she had decided to a certainty to divorce him, she might well still show up at the press conference to stand next to him. We don't know what she will ultimately do based on what she does today.
3.11.2008 8:46pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
Spitzer's wife is protecting him by accompanying him at public events.

For example, the wife's presence at the press conference keeps reporters from asking the really juicy questions.

When the going gets tough, Spitzer hides behind his wife.
3.11.2008 8:53pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Hillary's conduct is reprehensible, because she should call for Spitzer's resignation just as McCain called for Vitter's resignation. . . .

And I must say that the Bush DOJ has an interesting leaking policy . . . Vitter's name only came to light after Hustler was going to release it and the case had been pending for a long time; Spitzer's name was leaked right away. Odd.
3.11.2008 8:53pm
Paul Milligan (mail) (www):
"I'll bet Hillary and many other liberals know Spitzer well enough to be convinced his moralizing about the evils of the prostitution rings he busted, while completely at odds with his behavior, was sincere. "

Spoken like a true lawyer.

"That said, I'm not as willing to let him off by saying prostitution is inherently consensual."

many things that are 'mutually consensual' are illegal. Drug use, gambling, prostitution, etc.


"...but in the real world, all too often, we just can't distinguish between a voluntary prostitute and one coerced into prostituting herself."

At $ 5,000 a pop, I rather doubt they fall into the 'sympathy' category. And that has NOTHING to do with the legality of their acts, or their johns.
3.11.2008 8:55pm
John (mail):
Are we so sure Hillary is not client-8?
3.11.2008 9:04pm
Paul B:
CrazyTrain,

DOJ didn't leak Spitzer's name. The leak came from Spitzer's staff, almost certainly with his knowledge, so that they could at least control the timing. The stories indicate that he was informed by the US Atty late Friday.

If the Bush administration had wanted to leak the story, I can think of a couple of more likely places than the metro staff of the NYT.
3.11.2008 9:11pm
LM (mail):
Paul Milligan,

"I'll bet Hillary and many other liberals know Spitzer well enough to be convinced his moralizing about the evils of the prostitution rings he busted, while completely at odds with his behavior, was sincere. "

Spoken like a true lawyer.

I don't take that as an insult.
3.11.2008 9:14pm
Javert:
What's she going to say: "At least my husband wasn't stupid enough to pay $5,000."?
3.11.2008 9:16pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
So Spitzer:
1. Moved money around to pay for prostitution in a manner calculated to avoid currency reporting requirements;
2. Called the bank and asked them to take his name off of the transactions;
3. Called -- presumably using interstate phone services -- and arranged for a prostitute to travel in interstate commerce to service him; and
4. Requested non-safe sex and then went home to his wife the next day, Valentine's Day?

Does anyone else think this sounds like a criminal law exam fact pattern?
3.11.2008 9:25pm
Mac (mail):

"I'll bet Hillary and many other liberals know Spitzer well enough to be convinced his moralizing about the evils of the prostitution rings he busted, while completely at odds with his behavior, was sincere.

That pretty well sums up the "morality" of the Left, Hillary included.
3.11.2008 9:28pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I'll bet Hillary and many other liberals know Spitzer well enough to be convinced his moralizing about the evils of the prostitution rings he busted, while completely at odds with his behavior, was sincere."

I'm sure he was sincere about other people's behavior, and I suspect he was sincere in the belief that he was special.
3.11.2008 9:35pm
Cornellian (mail):
"I'll bet Hillary and many other liberals know Spitzer well enough to be convinced his moralizing about the evils of the prostitution rings he busted, while completely at odds with his behavior, was sincere.

That pretty well sums up the "morality" of the Left, Hillary included.


And if you believe that, you'll believe that David Vitter is a "family values" politician.
3.11.2008 9:45pm
LM (mail):
Elliot123 and Mac,

Funny how you both omitted mentioning that I said the same thing about Foley, Vitter, Craig, Swaggart and Haggard. Do your comments apply to them and those who stand by their sincerity also?
3.11.2008 9:46pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Yes. No need to mention what you already said. Unless, of course, it's special.
3.11.2008 9:56pm
jheath:
Forget whether Spitzer has been "punished enough" as a moral matter: an AG or governor who frequents prostitutes puts himself in the position of being asked for "favors" by criminals who can blackmail him. Any prostitution ring he busted as a prosecutor would have been competitors to the ring he patronized -- which, if he did it as a favor to his preferred escort service, would make Spitzer a legitimized gangster. Or suppose somebody connected with the prostitution ring he patronized was being investigated, or prosecuted, for other criminal activity -- would they hesitate to extort favors from him?

I question whether a "lifetime of ambition and fighting" is being "squandered." Perhaps he spent a lifetime of posturing and bullying because he enjoyed pushing people around and getting away with it, he enjoyed being above the law, and what we are seeing now is a mote of the justice that should have undone him long ago.
3.11.2008 10:00pm
another anonVCfan:
"Does anyone else think this sounds like a criminal law exam fact pattern?"

No. It's too easy.
3.11.2008 10:04pm
Dave N (mail):
LM,

I actually thought what you said was pretty wise--we take a kind of glee at the fall of our enemies that we do not feel at teh fall of our friends.

Compounding Spitzer, of course, is that he went out of his way to make enemies (including some very prominent Democrats). And when, as a politician, you are feared and not loved, when you fall, there is no one there to catch you because you have no friends, just colleagues.
3.11.2008 10:10pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
In response to the suggestion that Spitzer has been punished enough, I would ask how often did he back off prosecution when someone had learned their lesson? Desisting from destroying reputations and families never seemed a major concern of his when he was NY AG.
3.11.2008 10:11pm
LM (mail):
Elliot,

In that case, I agree. The question is how much, if anything, the grandiosity had to do with the fall from grace.
3.11.2008 10:11pm
LM (mail):
Dave,

That certainly has been his reputation, but it's hard to imagine a politician in a major election year sticking his neck out too far for any ex-crusading AG caught in this kind of mess. If he tries to hang on I guess we'll find out how few friends he has.
3.11.2008 10:30pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Spitzer is a superdelegate in Hillary's camp. There's no way she's going to speak out against him until he loses his vote.

In the meantime, she's probably suggesting behind the scenes that he come out with a firm statement along these lines: "I want to make one thing clear. I did not have sexual relations with any of those women. These allegations are false. And I need to get back to work for the New York people." That should do the trick. (And I guess Spitzer's problem was that he paid upfront, instead of getting a lawyer friend to get a job for the women after the fact.)
3.11.2008 10:44pm
Dan King (mail) (www):
For a book about prostitution, you might enjoy Naked in Haiti: A Sexy Morality Tale About Tourists, Prostitutes &Politicians. You can get there at www.dankingbooks.com
3.11.2008 11:44pm
Mac (mail):
LM wrote,
Elliot123 and Mac,

Funny how you both omitted mentioning that I said the same thing about Foley, Vitter, Craig, Swaggart and Haggard. Do your comments apply to them and those who stand by their sincerity also?

I don't think anyone would say that Hilary would ever suggest that the folks you mentioned were sincere in their beliefs even though their behavior was at "odds" with their beliefs. As I recall, the Democrats were out for blood. Swaggart and Haggard are not politicians and they got what they deserved. And, Jessie Jackson, among others, didn't exactly distinguish himself but, un like the aforementioned, he still has his job. Don't forget Bill, either. It was "only" about sex. Remember? Foley resigned. Craig should as should Vitter except that Blanco would appoint a Democrat to replace him and in Louisiana one is as bad as the other, it would seem. Also, the Democrats gave Studs a standing ovation when he retired from Congress and he had sex with a teenage page. Far worse than what Foley did. Studs did not resign. Barney Franks did not resign. If you use the Democrat standard, why should Vitter resign?

No slack is cut a Republican. And, I don't know of too many of their "friends" who feel these folks are "sincere" in their beliefs or have supported them and I can't think of a single Democrat.
As far as Craig goes. He should resign as he has amply demonstrated he is too stupid to be in Congress. Then again, maybe I am clinging to an exalted sense of our Congress.
Spitzer needs to resign asap. My sense of him is that he went after anyone with whom he disagreed or disliked or who could help him to make a name for himself whether they were guilty or innocent. I am willing to stand corrected on that. But, I think I have it pretty much correct. He is a hypocrite of the first order.
3.12.2008 12:11am
Barry P. (mail):
This whole thing started with his bank reporting "suspicious" transactions to the IRS.

Wonder if this was part of the finanial industry trying a little bit of payback on that vile thug.
3.12.2008 12:15am
TerrencePhilip:
When you are running for president, you have to stick to the script. Some lurid, unfolding saga like this is radioactive to a politician in a highly scrutinized campaign, where every word is parsed. One clunky phrase (Brooks chastises her for the meaningless "best wishes" gaffe) and you can look like a fool for weeks on the internet, or develop dozens of powerful new enemies. Mild criticism of him could sound like you are jumping in to take credit for the resignation, causing his remaining allies to resent you. As Duffy points out above, he is also a superdelegate (for now). He has few friends, but lots of people owe him, and will continue to owe him. She can't afford to be quoted talking about this longer than two seconds.

They are all just hoping he resigns tomorrow- Obama too, I'm sure, but it's more troubling for Hillary because he's in her back yard and endorsed her, however tepidly. When he's gone from office, whatever they say about him will matter much less.

And yes, anything she says does also have the effect of reminding voters about Bill's affairs.
3.12.2008 12:21am
John Herbison (mail):
boneTired wrote upthread:

After Lawrence, I don't see the problem. They were consenting adults. Maybe an exchange of money is their foreplay. The cold cash is kind of a sex toy. ... What's that 5th Circuit case?

I have on several occasions served as local counsel along with the fine adult entertainment lawyers from Cincinnati who won the Fifth Circuit dildo shop case. The approach that they have taken is derived in part from Justice Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas predicting what consequences would flow from the reasoning of the majority.

I have also (unsuccessfully) litigated a challenge, based in part on Lawrence, to my state's prostitution statutes. In that case, the District Attorney General, the Attorney General of Tennessee, the trial judge and the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee each assiduously avoided responding to the Lawrence issue.

Indeed, the Court of Criminal Appeals issued an opinion, State v. Paul Friedman, 2005 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 574 (June 8, 2005), that nowhere even mentioned Lawrence v. Texas. Instead, the Court opined:

"There is unquestionably a control in the states over the morals of their citizens, and, it may be admitted, it extends to making prostitution a crime." Hoke v. United States, 227 U.S. 308, 321, 33 S.Ct. 281, 57 L.Ed. 523 (1913). While it is true that consenting adults have a right to privacy that extends to entitle them, in certain circumstances, to engage in sexual activity in the privacy of their home, see Campbell[ v. Sundquist], 926 S.W.2d [250,] 262, [(Tenn.App. 1996),] there is no such entitlement to do so in a public place.


I suppose that while moral umbrage to buggery and fisting is insufficient to sustain constitutionality, it is sufficient as to more conventional forms of adult consensual sex behind closed doors, when tainted by the exchange of money.

If I am reading the majority opinion in Lawrence correctly, the foremost significance of that decision is that mere moral objection to adults' consensual practice of a sexual act behind closed doors, standing alone, does not even satisfy the rational basis test. (Justice Scoldlia's fulminating in dissent about the Court "taking sides in the culture war" supports such a reading of the majority opinion.)

The human sexual drive is stong enough that men were once willing to pay to stick it in even a hag like the late Andrea Dworkin. Apart from the moral queasiness prostitution arouses in the kind of folks who fret about what Tinky-Winky does with the genitalia that it doesn't have, what is the governmental interest in criminalizing commercial, consensual sexual acts, performed by adults behind closed doors?

That having been said, IMHO Governor Spitzer should resign for colossal stupidity and lapse of judgment, as should Senator Craig and Senator Vitter.
3.12.2008 12:31am
Gaius Marius:
Elliott Spitzer is above the law.
3.12.2008 12:58am
Randy R. (mail):

Glenn: "Excercising great conjecture, I wonder if boxing up one prostitution ring wasn't a favor for the rings he was involved in.:

Oh, I think there is plenty of business to go around....
3.12.2008 1:34am
Asher Steinberg (mail):
And his wife?! What kind of a moron is she that she felt obligated to stand next to the man for the press? It was his wrong; he should have stood there alone.

Compounding matters, the New York Times is now reporting that she's urging him to stay in office. Everyone else around him, they say, wants him to quit.
3.12.2008 2:04am
LM (mail):

Compounding matters, the New York Times is now reporting that she's urging him to stay in office. Everyone else around him, they say, wants him to quit.

Maybe that advice is her revenge for having stood next to him on the podium. ;)
3.12.2008 4:11am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
faulting Clinton for her (relative) silence

My mind boggles.
A politican keeping their mouth shut is a rare and wonderful thing. I don't care what the reason is, I'm just enjoying it.
3.12.2008 9:28am
Virginian:
On NPR this morning they interviewed people from the company that makes the tracking/analysis software used by the banks. They said the s/w has become much more sophisticated in the past several years. They also said the banks wanted the better s/w because of requirements imposed on financial services companies by ... drum roll please... Spitzer.

What was really amusing was that the guy from the s/w company wouldn't actually say Spitzer's name...like he was Voldemort or something.
3.12.2008 10:11am
iowan (mail):
To me Clinton/Spitzer reactions are different but I am still left with the feeling that With Clinton the overiding emotion seemed to be.."yes he is a scamp but whatever Bill does all is forgiven because of all the good he does, and what about how he advanced Feminism" The thought that the most powerful man in the world orders some lowly intern to her knees for sex, is not sexual harrassment. Pin up photos in the break room is sexual harrassment should give any judge with the occassion to hear these cases pause
3.12.2008 10:36am
SeaDrive:
"some" schadenfreude ?

The guy in the office next me is positively gleeful. He hasn't been so happy since Kerry got Swiftboated...

which says a lot in itself.
3.12.2008 11:10am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

For a book about prostitution, you might enjoy Naked in Haiti: A Sexy Morality Tale About Tourists, Prostitutes &Politicians. You can get there at www.**********ks.com


and feel free to browse my popularly priced Home Made Jams &Jellies® in the lobby as you exit the Volokh Conspiracy.
3.12.2008 12:21pm
Brian Mac:
"Why Hillary Is Silent on Spitzer"

Maybe because she's the shy, retiring type?
3.12.2008 12:33pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
What's there to say?
If she supports him, she endorses his actions.
If she condemns him....
If she supports him the man but condemns his actions....
He's a gone gosling as far as her political situation is concerned, superdelegate, fund raiser, influencer.
He's just gone, and there's no reason to get his baggage all over her.
Had he been an Obama supporter, Obama could have said some formulaic things including "goodbye". But not with her history.
3.13.2008 2:01pm