POLITICS
05/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Phil Singer Takes On The Weekly Standard 's Spitzer/Vitter Hypocrisy

Bit by bit, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has made his way back into the limelight, thanks to the growing interest in the origin story of the financial crisis. Obviously, if you had wondered what it would take to bring the much-mocked and scandal plagued "Client No. 9" back near the forefront of the news and within spitting distance of respectability, wonder no more. Spitzer's rise was fueled by his reputation as a Wall Street watchdog, and his overall proximity -- politically and geographically -- to the epicenter of the financial collapse, makes his opinion a potentially valuable one -- at worst, it's a harmless curiosity.

But the Weekly Standard? Well, they ain't having it! And in their Scrapbook, they go off on a bit of an extended rantlet:

Not so long ago, when a politician was caught in bed with a whore, it meant not only the end of his political career, but extended exile from polite society. This was particularly true of politicians--Client No. 9, for example--who wore their virtue on their shirtsleeve. Britain's Profumo scandal, a generation ago, did not involve a politician who was holier-than-thou, but did prompt the guilty party to withdraw from political office and devote the balance of his life to good works. Even Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives.

Now we may confidently assert that progress has been made, and the calendar is dramatically accelerated. For it was exactly one year ago (March 2008) that Governor Spitzer was revealed to be the habitual client of a prostitution ring--some of whose employees have since gone to prison--and obliged to step down from office "in disgrace." Now all is forgiven!

I'm going to assume that the bridge too far here is the actual contracting of a prostitute, and that, say, Newt Gingrich's infidelities have been absolved wholly through an indulgence bought from the Catholic Church he so recently embraced. But, to get a bit more contemporaneous here, I think Phil Singer makes an excellent point, here, regarding the continued acceptance of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.):

By the Weekly Standard's standards, Vitter should also be in "extended exile from polite society." Spitzer left elected office but Vitter is running for another term in the Senate. If the Standard thinks Spitzer should be in extended exile, presumably it thinks Vitter should join him.

It is, indeed, a puzzlement. Far from exiling himself, Vitter seems to have been lately attempting to step back into the spotlight. Maybe it's just me, but over the past year, he seems to have been offering up his opinion a lot, lately. And, like the good folks at the Weekly Standard have about Spitzer, I've found myself wondering how it was Vitter had managed to so quickly finish the heaping helping of Shut Your Cakehole that I felt he should have been feeding himself.

But, look, if a man wants to sex up a prostitute at the Mayflower or pay a sex worker to help work through his infantilist fantasies, perhaps I should be willing to look past it, so long as he doesn't pretend to be a spotless moralizer in the future. Naturally, Vitter has also lately distinguished himself by throwing a pisspot tantrum at airport security at Dulles Airport. Vitter has escaped from that incident, unpunished, but I can assure you, it will be a cold day in hell before I have any use for his opinion on matters of national security. On that subject, he should probably stick to a self-imposed cone of silence.

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