An Open Letter to Governor Eliot Spitzer

by Cara on March 11, 2008

in abortion, assholes, Democrats, misogyny, politics, reproductive justice, sex work, sexual exploitation and harassment, women’s health

Well you’ve certainly fucked things up, now haven’t you?

I was at the FPA conference in the Empire State Plaza, yesterday. That’d be Family Planned Advocates of NY State. You may remember that you were scheduled to speak there that morning, though with so much else going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if it slipped your mind.

You spoke there last year, and I was honestly very impressed. You were by far the most famous public official whose presence I’ve ever been in, but much more than that, you were unwaveringly pro-choice and pro-woman. Of course, you were at a conference for family planning supporters. But the media was there, and I’ve heard that other prominent speakers have not taken the opportunity to make a statement nearly as dramatic and affirmative. Frankly, I was very happily surprised with your display of enthusiasm and dedication. I’m almost embarrassed to remember how lucky I felt to have you as a governor. I thought “for a politician, this guy is pretty great.”

When you didn’t show up this morning, we were told that you had a “last minute emergency” that needed attending to. And I suppose that you did! Of course, you didn’t tell organizers the reason, and the news hadn’t broken yet, so we spent the whole morning talking about what an amazing governor you are. All of the legislators and other speakers invoked your name a lot of times, and I’d say that despite your absence, you probably got the most applause of the entire morning! That made us look and feel pretty foolish.

But don’t worry. That’s not why I’m mad at you. I have far more important and rational reasons than that.

If you had simply been caught cheating on your wife — who, by the way, I think is pretty cool — I wouldn’t really care. It would make you look like an asshole, but lots of people are assholes in their personal lives and still do great things. Particularly since you don’t try to preach your own version of morality to anyone else, I’d say that an affair was your business. Of course, the media would still have a field day — and I’d think that while you could have easily avoided the problem, they were being unfair. Whether or not you are monogamous doesn’t affect the way that you run the government.

However, you do routinely preach about your support and dedication to the well-being of women in the state, and to making sure that they are afforded equal rights. You do so convincingly, and despite my general political cynicism, I bought it. Between drafting your own bill to protect a woman’s right to an abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned, attempting to enshrine the right to also refuse both contraception and abortion, rejecting federal abstinence-only money, and working to increase funding for family planning, I’d say you’ve done a pretty good job by women up until this point. You’ve even shown dedication to lesbians and bisexual women by supporting same-sex marriage.

I believe in decriminalization and regulation of prostitution. But that is to help keep sex workers safe — not because I believe that men have a right to buy sex. As a woman and a feminist, I’m offended that you would speak about women’s rights out of one side of your mouth and then use the other side to buy sex from women including “things . . . you might not think were safe.” This holds true particularly because I’ve never heard you speak out in any way about how prostitution should be legalized and sex worker rights granted. In fact, as Attorney General, didn’t you bust a prostitution ring, yourself? Oh wait, it was two.

This is what brings me to my ultimate point. Beyond my sentiments about men who purchase sex — let’s place all of that aside — I’m angry and sorely disappointed as a voter and a citizen. As someone who played her own tiny part in electing you, as someone who believed in you — hell, just as a person who trusted you enough to not royally screw all of us over and make the entire state regret electing a Democratic governor for the first time in 12 years — I’m floored by the arrogance and self-centered hedonism. You knew that what you did was wrong when you did it. Even if you didn’t think that it was wrong to cheat on your wife (hey, for all I know you have an open marriage), or to hire a woman for sex, you knew it was wrong to take a risk that would jeopardize far more than your own personal career. It bears repeating that you were Attorney General, for Christ’s sake. You knew what was at stake.

But you did it. You were arrogant enough to think that the law did not apply to you and that the kind of secret Republicans have wet dreams about discovering wouldn’t see the light of day (I found out from a gloating Republican assemblyman while lobbying in his office, by the way — his staff were bouncing off the walls, and I can’t say that I blame them). You know, it’s more than just conceit and egocentrism. It’s just plain stupidity.

In an election year when the presidency is the Democrats’ to lose, and Republicans have been praying to that misogynist, gay-hating god they’ve invented for a high-profile Dem to do something this ridiculously moronic and easy to manipulate. In an election year when we had a decent shot at taking control of the State Senate — for the first time in over forty years — so that we could actually get some progressive legislation passed. After twelve dreadful years of Pataki, you can hardly make it past a single fucking year in office without throwing it all away for a thrill and a blowjob.

Yeah, I’m angry. I’m rather furious, in fact. Again: even if you think that hiring a prostitute does not wreck a man’s credibility enough to require removal from office — and I think that it’s a highly arguable point — there is no doubt in the mind of anyone with two braincells to rub together that this type of scandal is bad, bad news. Whether it should or not, it can and very well might ruin a person’s career. If that isn’t enough to zip your pants back up or pay for a movie at the hotel instead, I don’t know what is.

But let’s look at the bright side. In the realm of misogyny, at least you haven’t been caught raping anyone, sexually harassing an employee or beating your wife. You also coughed up an apology pretty immediately, rather than denying the allegations 20 times before deciding that they got bad enough for the truth. I’m not sure, though, whether I appreciate the small amount of integrity in that action or fear what it means the allegations actually say. And if a massive political scandal is going to break and make national front page news, I have to say that it was pretty cool to be milling in the legislative hallways while it all went down. Despite my disbelief and anger, it was rather exciting, and kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity. So thanks for that — I guess that you were thinking about us FPA attendees, after all!

I have no interest in calling for your head, right now. I think that it will probably roll regardless, and we’re pretty screwed either way. Seeing your history as a prosecutor zealously enforcing the very law(s) you’ve been caught under (for fuck’s sake, money laundering???), I do have an extremely difficult time not demanding your arrest. In the end, I’m just plain sad. You said “I apologize to the public whom I promised better.” You did promise better, and even those with low expectations probably expected better than this.

I don’t know what else to say. But out of the two of us, I’m not the one who needs to come up with something very, very quickly.

Bookmark and Share

{ 14 comments }

1 Hops March 11, 2008 at 11:53 am

Ditto. You completely nailed how I feel about all of this. I also find it annoying that Mrs. Spitzer stood next to him during the press conference. Aren’t we past that now?

2 Cara March 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Yeah. I think that the only thing that annoys me more than the wives agreeing to that kind of display — and really, I can see how one would probably be in shock and under a ton of pressure — is that their husband has to audacity to ask for it in the first place. You know, it’s not bad enough that you cheated/hired a prostitute/turned out to be gay after many, many years of marriage . . . you now have to disrespect your wife further by asking her to be there and look forgiving while you tell the whole world about how you disrespected her!

3 Moody March 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm

It’s times like these where you wonder if pro-feminist men are really pro-feminist. I ask myself this sometimes.

4 konstanze March 11, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Bravo. This is disgusting on so many levels, and you pointed out all of them.

5 Betty Boondoggle March 11, 2008 at 4:22 pm

“It’s times like these where you wonder if pro-feminist men are really pro-feminist. I ask myself this sometimes”

I ask myself this everyday. And I can’t say the answer is always positive. It seems a healthy dose of skepticism is not out of order.

And Cara – I voted for him too. I believed him. And I’m disgusted enough by this display of sheer hypocrisy and arrogance to be done with politics altogether.

6 Sarah March 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm

I am right there with you. I was so happy that he was my governor, especially since he very quickly spoke out about being pro-choice and pro-woman. But now… wow.

7 RenegadeEvolution March 11, 2008 at 9:59 pm

He broke laws he swore to uphold.

He made a lot of his political career on busting prositutes, yet he hires them himself.

In fact, he has a lot of buddies in the anti-prostitution realm of law and politics.

And I seriously doubt he will face the jail time the busted escorts will.

I don’t live in NY, but yeah, I can’t say as any of this endears me to the man.

8 Cara March 11, 2008 at 10:43 pm

I agree with those who say that if he is charged with anything, it will be the money laundering. Of course, if that’s true, he deserves to go down for that, as well. But I will be angry if they don’t go after him with the prostitution charges, not because I like the law, but because in 2006, he would have charged a man in his same exact position. And because he hasn’t hesitated to go after the sex workers themselves. So far in this case, it looks like the people running the business are the only ones to be arrested. But it wouldn’t exactly surprise me if “Kristen” got locked up over prostitution, and he takes a plea deal over financial crimes.

9 GallingGalla aka RachelPhilPa March 11, 2008 at 11:29 pm

I don’t live in NY, but all I can feel at this point is … nausea.

How could he do this while knowing full well that the rethuglicans will take advantage of this to the fullest, and will use it to wreck the Democratic POTUS nominee? Except through extreme arrogance, I guess.

He made a lot of his political career on busting prositutes, yet he hires them himself.

Yeah, RE, the hypocrisy of this galls me to no end.

And I seriously doubt he will face the jail time the busted escorts will.

Privilege in action.

It’s shit like this that makes me doubt that any man can be a feminist. When even Elliot Spitzer turns out to be a Nice Guy (TM)*, it’s pretty f-ing hard for me to take any man who claims to be a feminist seriously.

I say, hang him by his own petard, and charge him with violating his own FSM-damned laws, and subject him to the same penalties that he demands be applied to others.

*I know, his actions might perhaps not exactly match that of the canonical definition of a Nice Guy (TM), but it’s close enough. He sweet-talked an awful lot of women, then shafted them.

10 Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 8:28 am

“And I seriously doubt he will face the jail time the busted escorts will.”

Goddamn that pisses me off. How in the world is that right?

What is SWOP’s website again?

11 Roy March 12, 2008 at 10:14 am

Oh, he’ll almost certainly not be charged with anything. I don’t think that they can really get him on laundering money, because it was his own money being moved around his own accounts- it was suspicious and it alerted people to what he was doing, but according to the financial analyst on the radio last night, nothing actually illegal. They could potentially get him on a Mann Act violation, but, really, how likely is that?

In all probabilities, he’ll walk away from this without being charged with anything, as though resigning was a punishment in and of itself. Because, you know, that’s justice.

I’m rolling my eyes as hard as I can.

12 Moody March 12, 2008 at 11:05 am

^^ Roy here is a guy that I have no doubt is a through and through feminist. Even though he doesn’t get any cookies for it, I aspire to be like him. (Yeah, I’m a guy too.)

13 Cara March 12, 2008 at 11:28 am

As someone who has yet to catch her husband with a prostitute, I also don’t think that it’s a good idea to condemn men on the basis of one being an asshole. But fair or not, I do think that the situation reflects badly on men — and that men absolutely have a right to be pissed off about that. Similarly, I think that women have a right to feel disillusioned about both politicians and allies. It does serve as yet anothe reminder that those who claim to be on our side can’t always be taken at face value — with the amount of anti-feminist “feminists” out there, that goes for women, too.

14 Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 12:37 pm

“Similarly, I think that women have a right to feel disillusioned about both politicians and allies.”

Prezactly. This is a total stab in the face. I cut the cord on spitzer, may he fade in to irrelevant oblivion, after Silda divorces him.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: