Friday, March 14, 2008
Rinse and Spitz
[Editor’s note: I finally got around to giving this blog a proper URL and updated home page. Verbalcalorie.com is an idea I’ve been entertaining for a long time, and after working out a few glitches it seems to be up and running. The page loads well in Safari and Firefox, but looks like a pixelated schizoid in Internet Explorer—I’m building a Microsoft voodoo doll to deal with this. Please contact me with problems or suggestions.]
Now that he’s unemployed, what is Elliot Spitzer doing? The day after his resignation, Client 9 surely has few options. Now an ex-governor—and perhaps, soon to be an ex-husband and felon—Spitzer could be suicidal, or perhaps trying to reconcile with his family. He could be ringing up a hefty bill at the high-end whorehouse that started this ballyhoo. This is an anthropomorphic moment, when an object—Governor—mutates into a person—Elliot Spitzer, Disgraced Condom Spurner.
Spitzer’s is an unusually sanctimonious and pitiable case, since his was a public personality built on the moral hard line. As we’ve seen several times, however, even presumed saints reduce to flesh and bone. Stripped of so many identities—Governor, public servant, upstanding citizen, Conservative, law-abider, family man, model New Yorker—Spitzer has little left besides for philanderer.
Where does someone like that go?
My boss intuits suicide. “If I were him,” she says, feet up on the desk, “I’d be killing myself.” Or, “he’ll announce he has some other addiction that compels him to sleep with hookers, like alcoholism or painkillers, and he’ll disappear into rehab for three months.”
The decoy addiction could, indeed, prove useful. Blaming a stigmatized problem (in Spitzer’s case, pricey prostitutes) on something that garners public sympathy could partly salvage his reputation. Call it an evolved Twinkie Defense.
“Either way, he has to go underground for a few months,” she adds. “Maybe he should take that girl he was sleeping with for a long-term rental.”
The public outcry is bound to die out, since there is simply nothing more to write about. Spitzer will resurface in the tabloids if he gets indicted or divorced, but until then can rely on attrition and boredom to bail him out. Inevitably, words like “shock” and “disgust” will yield to generic alternatives like “unexpected” and “unfortunate.” Sex scandals and corruption are like bread—the older they get, the staler they become.
Stay Salacious, Spitzer