Memo to tax preparer: Please delete deduction previously claimed in the amount of $4,000 for "petite brunette." I continue to believe that this was a legitimate expense, but seeing that the IRS got after Gov. Spitzer for making unexplained cash withdrawals from his personal account, let's not take chances.
Just when you think you've become inured to sexual high jinks by politicians, some bozo gets caught in a breathtakingly stupid misadventure. If it's not sex in the Oval Office, on the Capitol steps or in an airport men's room, it's the governor of New York violating half-a-dozen federal or state laws while slating his passion.
Eliot Spitzer reportedly spends more on hookers than most Americans earn in two years or more. Granted, it seems to have been his money to spend, and $80,000 is probably chump change to the millionaire politician.
This story reminds me of the 1987 scandal involving then U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, D-Colo., who was linked to a comely lass with South Carolina ties. The nature of their relationship was a little vague, but consensus was that she was not Mrs. Hart. Until then, Hart had been viewed by many as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. The story destroyed his hopes of a national career, just as the political future of Eliot Spitzer, who also was being measured as presidential timber, crashed and burned last week.
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Perhaps it's a measure of our lost innocence, but at the time of the Hart scandal, journalists actually debated whether The Miami Herald had behaved ethically in breaking the story about the senator's dalliance with Donna Rice. One survey showed that 63 percent of subscribers disapproved of the newspaper's decision at the time.
Few such objections are being raised in the wake of The New York Times' blockbuster story about Gov. Spitzer. If the populace had harbored similar reservations about disclosing politicians' peccadilloes, they likely evaporated during l'affaire Lewinski, which almost brought down a president and probably cost Al Gore his chance to move into the White House.
Any man thinking about running for office these days should be on notice that his love life is fair game. Even if the press corps longed for the days when journalists could turn a blind eye to the bedroom antics of politicians, the public doesn't play that game any more. Everyone with a camera phone or digital camera is a potential paparazzo, ready to capture a picture of a celebrity ducking into a cab with a beautiful woman on his arm. And if the subject is snapped coming out of a hotel room with a female other than his spouse, so much the better. In any case, the image will be uploaded to the Web before Mr. Big Shot can remonstrate.
Even if you think Gov. Spitzer's bedroom behavior ought to be off limits, it's hard not to be smug about his comeuppance. Not only had he portrayed himself as an Eliot Ness-style "Untouchable," but as New York attorney general, he also had delighted in rubbing opponents' noses in their legal or political difficulties. No wonder there was cheering in brokerage houses when word went out that the "Sheriff of Wall Street" had been busted.
Personally, I might hold a modicum of respect for the guy had he faced the music by himself. Like other scoundrels caught in a high-profile scandal, however, Spitzer felt obliged to have his wife at his side while facing the media.
As if it weren't enough that the governor was outed as a john to a high-dollar hooker, the first lady was publicly humiliated as the woman scorned. Spitzer not only left his marriage bed to frolic with a prostitute in Washington, D.C., but he also paid in advance for future trysts!
The other day, a friend suggested that the forgotten victims in this sordid story are public officials who don't cheat on their spouses or portray themselves as holier than the rest of us.
Perhaps, if Spitzer ever is brought to trial, the jury will include a few public officials -- preferably married women -- with a stockbroker or two thrown in for good measure.
We can only hope.