Thursday, March 13, 2008
Whether it was Spitzer's involvement in the Dirty Tricks and Internal Revenue scandals that targeted Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, his threats against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other Assembly Democrats, his undermining through rumor and innuendo of Lt. Gov. David Paterson, or his seemingly paranoid hostilities to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Spitzer's style struck many as so far out of line with his public claims of righteousness that many started using the jargon of abnormal psychology to describe him. [bold added]The above passage is disturbing for two reasons. First, it describes a widely respected and admired man who actually held elected office in New York, and who had legitimate presidential aspirations. Second (and worse), it draws the wrong conclusion about the relationship between Spitzer's "claims of righteousness" and his megalomaniacal, controlling personality.
What did Eliot Spitzer do to be able to claim "righteousness"? He prosecuted citizens for victimless "crimes", some of which were forms of productive activity. The laws that made these acts crimes were legal codifications of arbitrary religious and altruist proscriptions against behavior that violated the rights of no one and, therefore, did not belong on the books.
In other words, Eliot Spitzer was not motivated by a desire to protect the individual rights of the people who elected him, but by a moral code that is incompatible with personal freedom because it calls for the sacrifice of individuals. Whether Spitzer was benevolent but misguided at first (which seems very unlikely to me) or a power-luster from day one is irrelevant.
In either case, his implicit ethical system condoned human sacrifice and the only difference would be whether that moral code demanded sacrifice of others for the "common good" (benevolent Spitzer) or his own aggrandizement -- and whether Spitzer's actual motivations stemmed from the source the public originally thought or were camouflaged by it. This is because his implicit ethical system (whatever it is) and his explicit one (what the public elected him on) are variants of the same theme, differing only by who Spitzer thinks is entitled to drink the sacrificial blood.
If you later start seeing some of the very actions Spitzer was once admired for being re-cast as evidence that he was "selfish" (which he wasn't) or merely crazy, it will be only because Spitzer drank of that cup himself, and not, alas, because he filled it in the first place.
Yes. Spitzer's personal behavior sounds like that of a disturbed man. But that fact makes him no less of an altruist, nor does it make him "inconsistent". He is gone, but the idea that man should be sacrificed to others remains at large, ready to empower others like him or worse through the mantle of undeserved respectability.
Spitzer will get only poetic justice, and his political demise will not save us from tyranny for long.