I am very glad that Eliot Spitzer has decided to re-enter politics by running for New York City comptroller. And right on cue, Matt Yglesias has said what had to be said, Eliot Spitzer Never Should Have Resigned in the First Place. Mostly, his article was an excuse to point out that Spitzer most likely wants this “lowly” job because it will give him control of the public employee pension funds. And that means, he will have some power to go after Wall Street. Surprisingly, Yglesias does not go to the next step, which is that Wall Street is going to put big money behind Spitzer’s primary opponent Scott Stringer. And it may not be that hard for Stringer to get the advantage given he isn’t a bad guy himself. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the election goes.
What I’m more interested in is the Spitzer resignation itself. As with Anthony Weiner, I think his resignation had more to do with the complete lack of support by his own party than anything else. In both of these men’s cases, the scandal was relatively small. But Democrats are not a group prone to circling the wagons. They are more in the habit of waving a white flag and yelling, “We’ve got him here! He’s all tied up! We’ll bring him right out!”
This has long been a problem for me with the Democratic Party. As much as I hate just about everything the Republicans stand for, at least they are loyal when it comes to all of this non-ideological bullshit. Of course, they are like the medieval Catholic Church when it comes to ideology. The Democrats are just the opposite. A Democratic candidates can be anti-individual welfare and pro-corporate welfare and we will herald him as the greatest Democratic President since FDR. But let a sex scandal show up and suddenly the Democratic Party is as pure as Mother Teresa. In fact, I wonder if the Democratic Party would have stayed as loyal to Bill Clinton had it not been for the constant ridiculous trumpeting of fake scandals all through his presidency. (Regardless, it was only his will to fight that saved him.)
It is interesting, this comparison of the two parties. They kind of show the main ways that parties can go wrong. The Republicans have become too pure in terms of ideology and the Democrats have become too impure. Both of these failings have advantages. But what it means as a practical matter is that the very best politicians in both parties are drummed out: Republicans because they are too reasonable and Democrats because no one is ever that perfect. At least, no one who has anything going on intellectually!