Edgar Allen Poe wrote the chilling short story “A Cask of Amontillado” of a man who is bricked alive into a wall in retribution for a lifetime of perceived transgressions.
Embattled NY Governor Elliot Spitzer may feel deja vu on reading the story, except for the fact that he has gone and bricked himself in, and those who feel enmity toward him have only needed to sit back and watch. Perhaps Poe in combination with the Greek tragedians could come up with this one…
What strikes me is how Governor Spitzer has followed the scandal playbook to the letter, yet is slowly being bricked into a corner by his own actions-the victim of his own double hubris.
Typically, this is the successful scandal playbook as written by Curley of Massachusetts, crafted into an art form by Ted Kennedy, and employed by a range of politicos, is as follows:
a) An indiscretion (of varying degree and severity) is commited by a public figure
b) Said indiscretion is discovered
c) Public figure offers a public apology
d) Public figure endures the whirlwind. If he/she weathers the storm they continue in public life.
What is key is the indiscretion. For instance, in Virginia we have seen:
*Jim Moran (VA-8) commits all type of outbursts and outrages against civility and common sense, often with barely an apology, and he merrily and regularly returns to Congress.
*Chuck Robb, trailing Ollie North in 1993, went all mea culpa on us in admitting the Tai Collins “nude massage” thing. Robb weathered the storm and won reelection in 1994.
*Ed Schrock (VA-2) was outed in 2004 (as being gay or bisexual) as a reaction to his having aggressively opposed various gay-rights issues in Congress such as same-sex marriage and gays in the military. Nothing illegal in his conduct, but contrary to the positions he took while in office.
Spitzer is unique, as he has the misfortune that each day pops another brick into his wall of political entombment.
a+b) It was discovered he frequented a high dollar escort service, despite making part of his crime busting career on attacking prostitution;
c) He offered a public apology for his behavior, and;
d) He sits back to weather the storm…
…except more comes out. First it comes out he paid to transport the escort over state lines (in possible violation of federal law) to engage in an activity that is generally illegal outside of parts of Nevada. Next, it is reported that he spent over $80K over a period in these liaisons. Now, it appears that these activities stretch back over a period of years that includes his railing against prostitution rings.
That is where the Double Hubris comes in…it is one thing to engage in acts that not only threaten his political career if discovered and are also illegal; it is another thing to engage in that activity while on the political warpath against the same activity!
Who knows what more will come out? Each day Spitzer seems to brick himself further into the entombment of political oblivion.
Somewhere Poe and the Greek tragedians are thinking, “Dang, not even we could come up with a story like this one-for who in their right mind would believe it?”
Believe it, folks.