We learned almost immediately that Client 9 was Eliot Spitzer. And that his $1000 an hour rent-a-gal "Kristen" was really 22 year-old Ashley Dupre. But that 800 lb. pink polka-dot elephant lurking in the shadows of The Mayflower's room 871 turns out to be none other than Bill Clinton. Not that the media pretends to notice.
Unfair! you protest. Slander! The Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy once again at work! When speaking of the Eliot Mess, seems like it's OK to evoke memories of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, or hapless Larry Craig or even to dredge up Gary Hart as examples of powerful men who at one time or another did more thinking with their little head instead of their larger one.
But all of a sudden, comparisons to Bill Clinton and -- dare I say -- Monica Lewinsky seem to be out of bounds. That's a curious anomaly because if there's any two recent cases of reckless, high-wire American sexual politics that are most similar, they have to be those of Clinton and Spitzer.
Both were two extremely powerful men, rising political stars, one a Governor another a president, both brimming with ambition and hubris, both of them willing to risk not only their own political careers but also to put the interests of their larger political constituencies into play, as they indulged their personal, uncontrollable sexual compulsions and addictions.
And both of them with very young women, troubled young women, albeit in different ways. And both of the women barely of age, young enough to be their own daughters.
Ah, but you say, there's a world of difference between the two cases. Spitzer was into hookers, while Clinton's to-do with Monica was a consensual, voluntary relationship between two adults with no exchange of currency (indeed, it was Monica who was showering gifts on Bill).
Not exactly. I'd even argue that "Kristen" got a much better shake than Monica. Not only did she get paid -and rather handsomely--she got a couple of hours at a time, alone and in a luxurious hotel suite with the Governor of New York. She certainly wasn't in love with her high-rolling John. But at least he treated her with a certain dignity. Monica, on the other hand, got a only a few, sporadic, stolen minutes now and then with the President, hurriedly servicing him behind, on or under his desk. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there's no record of them sharing any real intimacy, or spending as much as one night alone together. And Monica's payback was hardly at the five or even four diamond level. Instead, she was thoroughly trashed and somehow portrayed as the perpetrator - not the victim--by many of the same hired knife-throwers still working today for the Clintons.
Which reminds us of one other detail. By next week, Spitzer will have slipped into the swamps of political obscurity. But Clinton, through a strange alignment of political forces and by an exaggerated response from the Republicans, not only survived, but went on to politically flourish. Indeed, at times during the current presidential campaign of his wife, Bill Clinton seemed to loom as large as any player on the stage.
Except for this past week, that is. The media has turned downright skittish in noting the similarities of character shared by Eliot and Bill. The only implication I can draw is that too many editors think it would somehow be unfair -even unseemly--to muddy the Hillary Clinton campaign with such uncomfortable associations. This is absurd, of course. Those same neurotic compulsions to dominate at all costs that time and again drove Bill Clinton into so many sordid personal dalliances have been garishly on display over the past few months if only in a more constrained political rather than sexual context. And once again they flash before us, this time as played out by Bill Clinton's soul mate: Eliot Spitzer.