Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Cliff May asks an intriguing question which has also crossed my own mind as I watch the 24/7 Spitzer coverage:
I have assiduously avoided commenting on the Spitzer Scandal, even telling one TV booker that my only strongly held opinion is that the governor should not have to resign – he should have the option of being waterboarded instead as his punishment.

But it occurs that there is a dog not barking here: Why have the media been so reluctant to compare Spitzer’s transgressions to those of Bill Clinton? Is it not clear which are the more egregious?

Spitzer paid high-dollar call girls in exchange for sexual favors. Leaving aside the question of how a low-paid public servant affords that, what Spitzer did is surely immoral, illegal, hypocritical, and embarrassing.

By contrast, Clinton exploited the power disparity between the American president and a young intern in his office. Earlier in his career, Clinton allegedly used state law enforcement officers to procure women for him. He allegedly sexually harassed Paula Jones. Juanita Broaddrick alleges that he raped her.

May goes on to suggest a few things that Clinton might recommend to Spitzer, but I am more interested in the answer to his question, because I think it is very revealing.

I suspect it has to do with the whole idea of "family secrets"; i.e., if you don't mention a thing--particularly a bad thing--then it doesn't exist anymore and you can pretend it never happened. This is the dynamic in many families where incest or abuse have occurred. Everyone knows on some level that these things occurred, but you pretend that everything is fine. Usually in such situations, there is an seemingly inexplicable animus displayed for the innocent victim of the sexual or violent abuse, since that person is the one who can "blow the lid open" on the collective fantasy.

The Democrats have their little family secret when it comes to Bill and his multiple sexual transgressions over the years. They have always dealt with it by attacking and destroying the reputations of his victims while defending the essential goodness of their man. That this behavior is perversely contrary to their professed committments to women's rights and 'social justice' has always been a source of amazement to me. The fact that they don't see how self-serving--not to mention morally and intellectually bankrupt--their behavior in the Lewinsky matter was, is clearly of clinical significance.

God knows that Hillary has her faults, but I suspect that one of the reasons the Party has turned so viciously against her presidential ambitions is that they don't want to have to deal anymore with the reality of her unfaithful spouse. They also don't want to have to admit that there was anything wrong with Bill's behavior, or even dredge up that inappropriate behavior in any way, shape, or form ever again.

If it is dredged up, then it might even result in some unwanted scrutiny of both the Democratic Party and its ideological contradictions by the electorate. It might result in some truly unpleasant moment of insight and self-awareness. Better to blame the usual suspects. Then the "family" can go on as if nothing of importance happened.

This is the reason that many on the left have come to the defense of the sleazy behavior of the New York Governor; or have remained mysteriously silent hoping he will simply resign and make it all go away. Better not to talk about these things too openly or else the family secret (which is never really a secret anyway) becomes a focus of attention once again.

Better to suggest that it is a frame-up; a Republican plot against the poor defenseless Democrats, etc and so forth. In other words, party/family business as usual.

UPDATE: ShrinkWrapped has further analysis.

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