Monday, March 10, 2008

Violating Public Covenants in Private

Eliot Spitzer falls.

At National Review Online Jonah Goldberg discusses how we should view this case. Essentially Jonah comes down on the side of judgment, noting Spitzer's misdeeds are now public so we have no choice to judge:
Still, to say that something is a "private matter" is not the same thing as saying something is beyond the scope of our judgment. If Tom is a drunk, it may be a private matter but that hardly means I must approve of his "lifestyle." If one of my married friends was repeatedly visiting hookers, I might say for the sake of social peace that it's none of my business, but I would still think much less of him. And, if he became more and more brazen — and hence more and more humiliating for the man's wife and family — the more likely it would become that I would feel compelled to say something.
Source: The Corner – Judging Spitzer by Jonah Goldberg
Clearly, Jonah strikes a sensible and just balance.

A reader e-mails Jonah reminding us wedding vows (which are what Mr. Spitzer broke among other things) are public affairs. Weddings must be witnessed, they must be conducted by an official duly authorized by the state, they are licensed by the state, and when they break down it is often the state who helps to sort the wreckage out and the state may become responsible for one or more people.

Eliot Spitzer showed an incredible lack of judgment. Being former attorney general of New York has to realize the connections prostitution often has with the mob and the fact he put himself into an extortable position:
"I [Rep. Peter King R-NY] don't know anyone who is more self-righteous or unforgiving than Eliot Spitzer. So he's going to have a hard time finding friends right now...

"Spitzer himself was very severe going after prostitution rings that had to do with white collar crimes. He was very hard-nosed with his tactics. To leave himself open to blackmail — putting himself and the state in a compromised position like that — it's just awful."
Source: The Corner – Self-righteous and unforgiving. by David Freddoso

Eliot Spitzer is the chief law enforcement officer of the state of New York. While most executives prioritize what laws they enforce it is hardly a good thing to violate those laws, especially ones he has gone after.

As far as private citizen Eliot Spitzer goes I think him a lout who betrayed the trust of his wife and children.