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March 10, 2008


farmer Mark

I agree with the spirit of what you say but I'm afraid Spitzer may well have to resign. Transporting the prostitute across state lines may end up being prosecuted as a federal crime along with the financial transgressions that seem to have been the trigger for the investigation. Then consider the picture of a powerful man pressing a considerably less empowered prostitute, even one who may be pretty self-possessed, for unsafe sex, which may totally destroy his ability to act the champion of the downtrodden.

I say this even though I don't think either patronizing prostitutes or engaging in prostitution should be illegal to begin with. If a member of a theoretically monogamous couple wants to engage sexually outside the relationship, in many respects this is the most morally justifiable way, involving a commercial rather than an emotional relationship. And sexual fulfillment is something everyone, even governors, should be entitled to as human beings.

But someone who not so long ago crusaded with huffy moral rectitude against prostitution rings is in no position to rely on these arguments. Perhaps nothing hurts more than Mr. Spitzer showing himself to be someone who feels he can operate above the laws he once enforced, as he was accused of last year in the Bruno affair. Put that together with his currently low state of public esteem (arising in part from his very decent gesture on immigrant drivers licenses but also in part by the more tawdry Bruno fiasco.) He has no reserve of public sympathy to build on, unless the story takes some unexpected twists.

It's one thing for Larry Craig, similarly shown to be the hypocrite, to stay in the Senate. Having one hobbled senator among 100 (or in Vitter's case, one among 435) is not as impossible as having a politically hobbled chief executive. I would put my money on his resigning within the week, and I don't think it would be the wrong thing for him to do.

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