Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Clouds Loom Over Even The Most Beautiful Things...

When Eliot Spitzer was elected Governor of New York in 2006, the state breathed a sigh of relief. He was a staunch Democrat-- a man who publicly went head-to-head with the state's already-in-place Republican officials-- and therefore he was full of promise for the deteriorating state. He was in favor of same-sex marriage, and he wanted to give illegal aliens driver's licenses (both things which could have hurt his political career as much as they may have helped it). Through it all, though-- the criticisms and the controversies-- he remained strong and with both feet firmly planted on the ground, his eyes icy in their trademark squinty stare. He had a confidence which some found over-the-top, especially when in his first days in office he growled at his Republican colleagues that he would "steamroll right over them." He had the political accomplishments to back up his words, and perhaps he wasn't the best team player, but to many, he was just a straight-shooter who said what he felt and told it like it was. That's the embodiment of a true New Yorker, so he made the people of that state feel at ease. They trusted him; nay, they embraced him. They believed him when he said he would bring change and integrity to the table as an elected official. He was supposed to be a savior, not a hypocrite.

Anyone who is even mildly intelligent doesn't just blindly take another person's word for things nowadays, though: they ask questions; they dig a little; they do their own research to find out how much is truth and how much of the person's own opinions and beliefs were thrown into the statements. That being said, in the light of recent findings of Spitzer's involvement with a high-powered prostitution ring come as such a surprise? We may not be wrong for wanting to believe this liberal (in a time of unbelievably staunch conservatism) could rise above temptations, but should we have expected that? Give a normal man any smidgen of power, and it goes to his head; give an already jaded New Yorker a few extra tablespoons of importance, and his head inflates like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. If Spitzer was already spitting fire mere days after his inauguration (albeit only in the form of verbal threats at that point), shouldn't the surprise come that so few suspected him of some kind of corruption?

U.O.s who are placed into gangs or drug rings and forced to live double lives almost always reap the few benefits they can as recognition and "payment" for the levels to which they will go for a very dangerous and unstable job. When under-the-table money changes hands in their double life, they almost always keep it, and very few get written up or "caught" (whether it's in the media or just in their own precinct). Giuliani had affairs; he pushed prostitutes and the homeless further south in Manhattan in order to make Times Square once again "safe and clean" for tourists to dump their hard-earned blue-collar money into New York City's glitz and glam economy; he hid behind 9/11 and accepted the "hero" label for actions that were actually required in order to do his damn job. It's just understood that these things happen with the people in charge. Now, I'm not excusing that kind of immoral, unethical behavior by any means; I think Spitzer is an irreprehensible scumbag who doesn't have a right to raise daughters in a world in which he contributes to the objectification and demoralization of women. However, I think we (the collective we, not just limited to the citizens who elected him) are guilty, too, for being the doe-eyed optimists Americans so often are. When this news report broke, our response should not have been audible gasps of shock but a simple shrugging of our shoulders in a "Yeah, so what else is new?" sort of manner. Maybe we had a right to be a little surprised when Dick Morris was caught with his pants down... maybe even some of that residual disbelief would have carried over to Clinton's own scandal... but all these years later, we should be wiser, savvier, and much more "onto" these guys.

Politicians are corrupt. It's not something I like to say, but it's something that just is. We learned about it in history class in school-- though the blips in our texts probably just scratched the surface on how they lie to the people to get their votes; they lie to their donors to get their money; they lie to each other to gain allies and therefore additional votes on measures they need to pass. They are men (and women) who have built a career doing one of the basic things we teach our children not to do, and just like our children who play that camp game where they spin around with their heads on a baseball bat until they don't know which way is up, politicians spend their days spinning their intentions, the things that fly out of their mouths, who they are, what they believe, and what they want for the area they govern. Their behavior may not be justifiable, but it should be expected. One sin begets another.
This photo has nothing to do with anything except I took it last weekend in Malibu, and I think it perfectly illustrates the title of this post.

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