“…The prostitute thing is embarrassing and painful to think about, but not a disqualification for public office. David Vitter is still in the Senate, and in internal LA Republican politics is apparently squashing the very pious Bobby Jindal like a bug…I know that opinions differ about just how effective Spitzer’s confrontations were. But at least he tried — which is more than you can say about almost anyone else in our political life. Basically, the malefactors of great leverage were bailed out and went right back to being bad guys again, and everyone in public life pretended that nothing had happened. That, I think, is why there’s a surprising reservoir of support for Spitzer; people remember him as someone who showed at least some of the righteous outrage that has been so wrongly absent from our national discourse. It’s a useful reminder, and it’s why I regard his entry into the race, win or lose, as a good thing.”
–— Inexplicably revered progressive economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, discussing the re-entry of Eliot Spitzer into New York state politics on his blog. Spitzer, despite having to resign from office as governor because he was caught partaking in the services of a prostitution ring—the same kind of enterprise he aggressively prosecuted as state attorney general, is now running for comptroller.
I do not understand how anyone can read or take seriously Krugman’s opinions on budget management and national affairs—he thinks that the national debt is no big deal at the moment, a position that is essential to Obama-enabling—when the favorite economist of progressives and Democrats can write something as indicting as the quote above. The post is appallingly irrational, irresponsible and unethical: it suggests that the author’s judgment is miserable, that his ethics are negligible, that his biases rule his intellect….and that, apparently with justification, he is confident that the Park Avenue liberals who quote him at dinner parties won’t lose an ounce of respect for or abandon an inch of reliance regarding a champion who believes such rot.
Paul Krugman, Nobel-winning economist*, really thinks that being guilty of a serious felony in the same state one is serving as governor (governors are bound to uphold laws, not break them) isn’t “a disqualification for public office.” Obviously he is technically correct, since nothing says that Spitzer can’t run, but that’s not what all Krugman is saying. He is saying that it shouldn’t be a disqualification in Spitzer’s case, an indefensible position. While governor, Spitzer repeatedly engaged the services of organized crime, and went to elaborate lengths to cover-up his activity. He did this, knowing that his conduct violated his oath of office, that its discovery would harm his family, his party, his state and its government, that it would give comfort to other criminals and wrongdoers, and that it was a betrayal of those who voted for him. This means he is, by definition, untrustworthy, and untrustworthy people should not hold high elected office because they have, by their conduct, disqualified themselves, whether or not there may be sufficient fools, like Krugman, who are ready to vote for them. Forgive me for the impertinence of saying “Duh!” to an honored practitioner of a science that I found bewildering in college and more so now, but being untrustworthy is a disqualification for positions demanding the public trust.
Krugman offers, as an argument, the most juvenile of justifications: Sen. David Vitter, Republican Senator from Louisiana, is still in the Senate despite having his name turn up on a prostitute’s client list, and the same state’s governor, who is not a liar and a hypocrite like Vitter and Spitzer, is faring worse in that state than Vitter is. That’s it. That’s the kind of logic that makes one an authority to cite when a Democrat wants to defend bloated deficits. Isn’t this embarrassing? It should be. In one sentence, Krugman has nicked at least seven intellectually dishonest rationalizations, and apparently thinks that’s powerful advocacy:
- “Everybody does it,” so it’s OK. Actually, he cites a particularly stupid version of the Golden Rationalization, which is “David Vitter does it.”
- The “They’re Just as Bad” Excuse
- The Biblical rationalization, “Judge not, lest ye not be judged”
- “Nobody’s Perfect!”… especially Republicans, so Democrats should geta pass on using prostitution rings.
- The “Just one mistake!” Fantasy, as if we should assume that Spitzer only showed contempt for this particular law, and otherwise believes that the law is sacrosanct.
- “The Favorite Child” Excuse, as is, “Hey! You let HIM get away with it! My boy should get away with it too!”
- “It’s a bad law/stupid rule.” This is the implicit and often express defense of Spitzer defenders, like political philosopher Martha Nussbaum wrote “Spitzer’s offense was an offense against his family. It was not an offense against the public. If he broke any laws, these are laws that never should have existed and that have been repudiated by sensible nations.” Ah. So state governors should be able to get away with breaking any law that they want, as long as they can claim, or that a malpracticing political philosopher thinks, that the law is a bad one.
Then, against all odds, Krugman’s brief for Spitzer becomes even less ethical and even more cretinous. The public needs, he says, for Eliot Spitzer to supply the “righteous outrage that has been so wrongly absent from our national discourse”! Correct me if I’m wrong, Paul, but would this be the same Eliot Spitzer who had previously displayed very public “righteous outrage” against prostitution rings, which he prosecuted vigorously in his quest for power, and then partook of their pleasures as soon as the power he achieved by prosecuting them afforded him opportunities to do so? That Eliot Spitzer?
Righteous indignation from a flaming hypocrite does no good at all. To the contrary, it erodes public faith in the political system and applies Mega-Grow to cynicism. “At least he tried?” Really? Really? I need some clarification here from Krugman: does he just think his readers are dumb and ignorant, or is he himself really this addled? Tried? Spitzer didn’t try very hard to keep his voracious sexual appetites from undermining his moral authority and that of his office. A puppet named Yoda could efficiently explain to Krugman the virtue of trying when you fail this spectacularly in a public duty.
Else where in the article, Krugman discloses, “I happen to know and like Spitzer personally; also, at least some of the talks I’ve given at the 92nd Street Y were sponsored by the Spitzer family. So you can discount what I’m about to say appropriately.” This is telling. It tells us that Krugman is cannot or will not overcome his own biases in making a judgment that he feels is worthy of publishing to the world. That certainly explains a lot of his other position, and why he, like Eliot Spitzer, should never be trusted.
* I originally wrote “Pulitzer” here, and hereby apologize to that committee.
Pointer: The Blaze
Graphic: United Liberty
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