Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vile Little Man

My sensitive stomach-there are certain foods, and spices I just have to stay away from, has me at home today, so I thought as I'm lying in bed with my laptop, I'd address The Scandal. We all know what happened in Albany yesterday. I'm astonished, but not shocked. Astonished by the stupidity and hubris of it all, but not by the hypocrisy, or by his inner freakishness. I first met our illustrious governor at Drinking Liberally at the very beginning of his run for office. He came looking for support, and staffers for his campaign, as did the candidate I later took a job with, Tom Suozzi.

Spitzer was this stiff, awkward, slight little man with ears that had distracting points to them. All through our conversation, I kept thinking he looked like some sort of goblin or Orc. That's what I mean by distracting. Then I felt guilt for being distracted by his looks-after all it wasn't his fault his appearance had a mythic creature ugliness to them. Perhaps, he sensed this, or even worse he had been encountering some form of this reaction all his life, and expected it from each new person he met...or new women. I noticed that he was the most uncomfortable around women. His visit was brief and awkward, he didn't relax for a minute, didn't have a drink with us, and was gone rather abruptly. I recall thinking, wow, how was a guy that socially inept going to handle the smoozing, social-butterfly side of politics? He spoke in demanding, entitled-bratty tones to his staff, and lacked charm. I got bad vibes from him. There is supposedly a psychic/intuitive streak in my mom's mother's side and I have learned that when I get a feeling of sudden revulsion to go with it. If I ignore it, it usually spells trouble for me.

When Suozzi came, he was friendly and charming, drank with us, truly listened to our responses, and I and several of my fellow DL members got our jobs with his campaign out of that visit. I was won over. Also I felt morally, I couldn't vote, or work for the election of someone pro-death penalty.

During the campaign, there was an incident I'll never forget, and one that definitely cemented my initial negative impression of him: the debate at Pace University. His campaign had played all sorts of silly, dirty tricks, stealing our signs from trees and buildings and throwing them away, actually snatching some from younger, weaker supporters, and running away with them. Taking the local reporters aside, and telling them to film only the crowd shouting for Spitzer, not our people. A Spitzer organizer told one of our modern orthodox organizers that he was a bad Jew for working for Suozzi. It felt like my junior high class president election in the hours before the debate.

When we finally got inside, I was simmering from the idiocy that had been going on outside. The Republican John Faso's campaign staff had been equally irritating, as his people rehearsed the dramatic anti-abortion statements they planned to slip into almost any question. They didn't even care that we heard them as they went through their various scenarios for confronting pro-choice candidates. It was like watching a read-through for a Passion Play. I wanted to slap all their faces-hard. Regardless of what your personal feelings are about the issue, it's a serious thing. One could tell that they were more psyched by the prospect of the attention they personally would receive than debating their cause. One kept calling people to tell them to watch them on TV. Half of this repulsive group looked to be in their fifties. Only two were chosen to ask questions, the wild-haired woman who appeared to be the leader of the group, and a stout, guy so nerdy I doubt he will ever have to worry about impregnating anyone.

Back to Spitzer, he held up the start of the debate. Why? He threw a tantrum. The binder. Tom Suozzi had been told he could have notes prior to the debate, and the man is super-prepared. He was the kid who excitedly started his essay the night the assignment was given, tweaked it up until the day of the oral presentation, and brought an armful of visual aides with him. So of course, when finally getting the chance to face Spitzer, he showed up with a full binder of notes.

Apparently, Elliot is binder-phobic and threw a fit worthy of Bette Davis on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Now as a young child, I saw a great deal of childishness from adults, NJ politics seem to routinely operate on an alternate reality plane, but I had yet or since to encounter any behavior on the level of this: Spitzer refused to come out, refused to debate unless Suozzi threw away the notes.

Offended, and puzzled, Suozzi and his handlers refused. That caused ES to storm off, and begin a furious tirade backstage. Know how I know? Because we HEARD him in the audience. As my dad used to say, the NY1 people and ES's staff didn't know whether to shit or go blind. It was very loud, and very profane. The audience was at first silent, then began to murmur uncomfortably. He threatened to cancel the debate, called Suozzi a few more names, as his elderly parents, wife and siblings sat shocked in the front row, finally stopping only when Suozzi gave in and lost the notes.

I used to teach, my mother was a teacher, my godbrother was the worst brat I have ever encountered in life. I've seen brattiness. Spitzer's mother and father should be ashamed. That incident sent a chill through me, and the unease grew even worse after TS described what had happened to his staff and supporters at the post-debate party. He mocked ES a bit, but looked shaken. One of his top staffers said he had never seen a meltdown like that over nothing before. The consensus of those who were backstage seemed to be that Spitzer didn't care if his tantrum was overheard, he was going to win anyway. He didn't need to do a debate, he was the next governor no matter what. Spoiled Brat, of the highest magnitude.

So I'm not surprised that he feels that rules of normal conduct do not apply to him, but shocked that his entire CAREER has been as a prosecutor, that he would do something so incredibly stupid! He has led investigations such as this is entire career, and yet he left a trail a mile wide to his own illegal, illicit activities.

This from the NY Times:
[I]n the Hauppauge offices of the Internal Revenue Service, investigators conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks found several unusual movements of cash involving the governor of New York, several officials said.

The investigators working out of the three-story office building, which faces Veterans Highway, typically review such reports, the officials said. But this was not typical: transactions by a governor who appeared to be trying to conceal the source, destination or purpose of the movement of thousands of dollars in cash, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The money ended up in the bank accounts of what appeared to be shell companies, corporations that essentially had no real business.

They followed the money, and it led to The Emperor's club.

I do question the timing of this investigation, he was scheduled to meet with Pro-Choice groups on keeping abortion legal the very morning that this story broke. Spitzer's dad is a very, very rich man over 500 million, I believe. Once they had determined that the money was legitimately his, and not embezzled funds, why were Federal prosecutors, and the FBI still bothering with him? Did they really need to spend the time to find out what he was purchasing? Secure the ports, catch some serial killers, turn away some terrorists, oh and FBI, what the fuck did happen to D.B. Cooper?

Pontificator, at The Albany Project, put it this way:

At this point, rather than continuing its investigation under the seldom used Mann act (which makes it a crime to bring prostitutes across state lines), it would have made more sense from a priority and resource standpoint to refer the matter to State prosecutors. Spending resources on taking down a prostitution ring is just not something that "public integrity" prosecutors need to be doing, especially when the only involvement by the original government target was that he was a customer, who used his own money.

And that's why this particularly stinks:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not excusing what he has done, and it would be best for the NY Democratic Party if he resigned...this isn't run of the mill cheating this is being Charlie Sheen, this is breaking the law, this is a mind-blowing level of a case of bad judgment, and we certainly don't need anymore politicians with a lack of common sense in power. But still...these days you have to be suspicious of anything that comes from the Department of Justice.

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