Monday, July 30, 2007

Spitzer's apology

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer had an op-ed piece in Sunday's New York Times, discussing -- and apologizing for -- his office's misuse of state troopers in an attempt to dig dirt on Republican Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno.

He starts out by stating categorically that "what members of my administration did was wrong -- no ifs, ands or buts."

He then goes into a short summary of what happened, followed by his response: suspending one advisor and transferring another.

The piece represents an interesting strategy. In my earlier post I called this "Spitzer's Plamegate" because of the similarities between the two cases. But there's a key difference here.

In the Plame case, the Bush administration denied any impropriety at all, prompting investigations, a special prosecutor and a years-long scandal.

Spitzer, on the other hand, essentially admits to the charges against his administration. That more or less makes moot Bruno's threats of investigations and hearings, because Spitzer has already pleaded guilty to what such an investigation might hope to prove: impropriety, not illegality.

Spitzer appears to hope that derailing those investigations will make the scandal blow over quickly and not linger on to impede his policy agenda -- though there will be lingering problems thanks to his sour relationship with Bruno.

It's worth a shot, but it's probably a forlorn hope. Setting aside Bruno's personal pique and the political hay to be made by dragging out this embarassing episode, state Senate Republicans will note that one unanswered question is "who knew what when" -- in other words, was Spitzer part of the effort, or unaware as he claims?

That's a legitimate question, though the apparent lack of any possible illegality puts a limit on how aggressively and intrusively the Senate can pursue it. If Spitzer really wants to kill this scandal, he's going to have to give them an answer -- with documentation, if possible. Otherwise he gives them a premise to continue to flog the issue for months.

Senate Republicans, for their part, need to avoid overreaching and accept a reasonable solution if one is offered. That's not just simple fairness: Spitzer is a lot more popular than Bush, and an aggressively political investigation will backfire on them, especially now that Spitzer has donned a hairshirt over it.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In the Plame case, the Bush administration denied any impropriety at all, prompting investigations, a special prosecutor and a years-long scandal.

Spitzer, on the other hand, essentially admits to the charges against his administration."

That's because the Bush administration claim they did not do anything wrong or break any laws. So why would they admit to something they didn't do? Spitzer evidently KNOWS that he did. Big difference.

JP5

7/30/2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

That's because the Bush administration claim they did not do anything wrong or break any laws. So why would they admit to something they didn't do? Spitzer evidently KNOWS that he did. Big difference.

Sure. I'm just saying one approach is guaranteed to lead to a drawn-out scandal, while the other may not.

7/30/2007 2:27 PM  

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