George Dvorsky has been thinking about the Elliot Spitzer scandal, and while he’s quite certain that Spitzer transgressed the law and deserves to be punished as such, he thinks we’re overstating the strangeness of the transgression itself:
“Why did Spitzer go to a prostitute in the first place? Well, it’s not because he’s corrupt or evil; those are labels applied to his actions after the fact. Rather, it stems from a deeply hardwired desire to get some action on the side, for sexual fulfillment outside of marriage.
Simply put, he was being a typical guy.”
Just to reiterate, Dvorsky isn’t trying to let Spitzer off the hook here, but he is trying to point out that Spitzer is a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. If democracy has a future, I think it depends on us waking up to the idea that people in positions of power are just ordinary people – which, at the same that it removes them from their pedestals, should also remind us that we’re more than capable of falling from grace ourselves.
9 thoughts on “Why we shouldn’t be so hard on Spitzer”
Dvorsky thinks it’s typical guy thing to use prostitutes? to cheat on a relationship based on mutual promises of fidelity?
Interesting. If Dvorsky has a partner I hope he/she is paying attention.
I think he’s saying the basic psychological urge to do so is typical, rather than actually following through on it.
People hiring prostitutes does not bother me. However, I am deeply bothered that he did it while prosecuting others for the same thing.
@Madeleine: Not that it’s typical, but that it’s a human mistake. We have to stop holding politicians to an inhuman standard, is what he’s trying to say.
@madeleine: i’d say it’s a lot more typical than you think, discussion of it is mainly taboo in guy groups, but i could make a list of some very seemingly-unlikely men i know who have enjoyed that kind of action.
There are two aspects to this question: the cheating on the spouse part, and the paying for sex part. Some people may have an issue with one part or the other, or both. Both are biologically driven, they’ve seen both in chimps.
I think anonymoose has it spot on, expecting people to be superhuman never ends well.
The hypocrisy is the most significant part as far as I’m concerned, but really these scandals are nothing but a distraction from events of actual significance. Events like this are typically an exercise in media character assassination underpinned by political motive, playing on the desire of people to develop moral outrage over something that will have no actual consequences for themselves.
More food for thought at the New York Times.
Wasn’t he using public funds to pay for the prostitution? That’s what I have a problem with. I might be wrong because I don’t really care, but that sounds lousy.
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