Obviously, the revelation that (soon-to-be-former-)Gov. Eliot Spitzer was caught soliciting prostitutes is, to put it mildly, disappointing. Spitzer was a rising star in the Democratic party, and there were plenty of people -- myself included -- who thought he'd end up a cabinet secretary one day, or maybe president. Certainly, he'd built the reputation as a no-nonsense reformer; that was something Democrats respected.
So it's understandable that some Democrats right now are asking questions about why Eliot Spitzer was targeted, saying the investigation doesn't "pass the smell test." It's understandable that others point to David Vitter and Larry Craig, and wonder why Spitzer should have to resign. It's understandable, when someone you liked is proven to be fallible, to turn on the attackers, rather than admit that you were wrong about them.
But we must admit we were wrong about Eliot Spitzer.
If you want to know why Spitzer was targeted, here's why: he was moving money around to try to camouflage his payments to prostitutes. This initially looked to the banks like he could be laundering bribes, and that brought in the feds. And the feds, lo and behold, found out that Spitzer wasn't on the take -- he was just violating federal law, playing with money, and, not incidentally, soliciting prostitutes.
Is it possible that the Bush-run Justice Department went harder on Spitzer than they would have, say, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty? Yes it is; indeed, it's likely. I'm sure if Haley Barbour was Client Number 9, this very well may have been hushed up.
But the sin of the Bush Justice Department is not that they go after Spitzer, but that they wouldn't go after Republicans in the same way. Spitzer broke the law; his statement today was all but an admission of guilt. He broke the laws of the state of New York, laws he swore to uphold. He also violated the trust of his wife and his children; that isn't a public failing, but it certainly is a moral one. He chose to try to lure a prostitute from New York City to Washington, D.C. He chose to launder money so his transactions couldn't be traced. He made those decisions. He just got caught.
Eliot Spitzer brought this on himself. He violated his oath of office by putting his libido and his thirst to be powerful ahead of his sacred duty to the people who elected him. I don't care that he was a Democrat, or that he could effectively compartmentalize to make himself believe that he could be both a John and an effective advocate for women's rights. He has violated the trust of his wife, his daughters, and the people.
Don't tell me that "everybody does it." For one thing, everybody doesn't, and for another, those that do should either forthrightly work to legalize prostitution, or stop pretending that they are anything other than the worst sort of hypocrites. Spitzer is part of a long line of politicians who believed that the law applied to other people, people who were littler than him. The Republicans are fine with men like that representing their party, as they generally agree with that sentiment. Democrats, progressives -- we believe the law should apply equally to everybody, even politicians we agree with. There may be times when the punishment is too big for the crime, or when a politician is prosecuted unjustly; in those cases, no matter the party of the accused, we are right to defend them.
But in cases like this, where a politician has violated the sacred trust of the people? He is owed no cover, and no support. And to continue giving him support even after he has proven himself unworthy of it is to make us no better than the credulous fools on the other side of the aisle, who still insist George W. Bush is a great leader. Unthinking, reflexive support is despicable in conservatives. It is anathema to liberals.