The Abuser Abused: Eliot Spitzer Meets the Real Governor of New York

Scott Horton points to several glaring pieces of evidence indicating that Eliot Spitzer was targeted for political  destruction by the partisan apparatchiks of George W. Bush's thoroughly corrupt Justice Department. It turns out that Spitzer was the subject of a secret, free-floating federal investigation, with much money and manpower employed in trawling through his finances and private life until something juicy finally turned up. As Horton notes, Bush prosecutors are a dab hand at this kind of dirty pool by now, although usually they have to trump up entirely specious charges to take down their victim, as in the case of Don Siegelman of Alabama. In this instance, however, Spitzer handed them the ammo himself with his penchant for professional stress relief.

And yet....Arthur Silber -- taking the lead, as usual -- notes that Spitzer has been hoist on his own petard. He is himself a past master of the politically targeted prosecution, complete with the use of arcane, outdated laws to fetch in suspects and strip them of their rights. He has also been an enthusiastic supporter of the liberty-gutting Surveillance State and the unfettered rampages of its security apparat. [See Silber for the details.] Silber's conclusion is stark, and apt:

Prostitution involving consenting adults cannot defensibly be regarded as a crime. In that sense, Spitzer should never have been targeted at all for that alleged offense. But it is currently illegal, as all basically functioning adults are fully aware. Given Spitzer's unfathomable stupidity -- and in light of the fact that he is now the victim of the kinds of overreaching police state tactics that he himself has endlessly championed and utilized -- this can only be regarded as an instance of an especially objectionable, arrogant, overweening, power-mad, vicious son of a bitch himself getting exactly what he has been delightedly happy to dish out to others.

Let's come back to the stupidity angle. Spitzer was regarded as some kind of rising star in national politics -- even a future president. But really now -- if Spitzer is too stupid to realize what kind of country he is living in, if he really didn't realize that, as prominent political figure, his every move was under surveillance by the vast security network of the Unitary Executive, how smart could he actually be? In the end, he comes across as nothing more than a second-rate chump riding for a fall, one of many abusers of power who come to believe that they themselves will never be subject to its abuse: an old, dreary story.

What is interesting, however, is why the security apparat didn't keep the prostitution angle under wraps. They could have used it as leverage for years to "guide" Spitzer toward the "correct" policies as he made his national ascent. Maybe somebody just had a grudge against him. Or perhaps -- more likely -- Spitzer's fall was engineered as a warning (or a reminder) to even higher figures to play ball, or else. "Just remember: anyone can be gotten to, and we won't hesitate to do it. Go ahead and play the game, pander to your base, use any kind of rhetoric you want, nobody cares about all that. But when push comes to shove, you better support the interests of the imperial-corporate complex, or you are going down. You savvy?"

And that's the way it works down in the bowels of power in the shining city on the hill. Pretty, ain't it?