Eliot Spitzer Got Off Track


This ad from 2006 shows how Eliot Spitzer failed to follow the path he promised voters.  Earlier in the day news stories reported that he was patronizing prostitutes for six years, and I now note that the article was updated to ten years, spending up to $80,000.

If this was simply a sex scandal it would be more a matter between him and his wife. At very least, the more I hear about Spitzer’s career as Attorney General there are questions of hypocrisy. I doubt that Spitzer would have shown any mercy towards someone else in his situation. From many of the accounts of his career I’ve heard today I get the impression he might have been overly concerned with personal destruction of his targets as opposed to simply upholding the law.

One of the more amusing accounts of the scandal comes from Iowahawk’s report that “Kristen” would “temporarily step aside in the wake of charges that she had engaged in sex with New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.” ABC News has interviewed an actual escort who has been hired by Spitzer who says he was a nice guy who tipped well.

Spitzer is rumored to be planning to resign tomorrow. Most likely he is holding off on resigning so he can make his resignation a part of any bargain. While it is understandable that Spitzer’s political career is finished, it is far less clear that there are significant legal issues here which warrant prosecution.

There are also questions as to why this investigation was initiated and why it continued to this stage. Some reports say that the investigation started over questions of whether the movement of money involved bribes–which certainly should have been investigated. However, once it was determined that this was to pay prostitutes I’m not sure there was reason to continue the investigation.

Obama Wins in Mississippi, Battles Clinton Over Ferraro, Olbermann To Do Special Comment

Barack Obama is projected to win the Mississippi primary. All that remains is the official vote count and the official reason from the Clinton campaign as to why this primary does not count.

With these results expected, the more explosive battle of the day was over  Geraldine Ferroro’s comment:

If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.

Obama adviser David Axelrod noted the pattern of racially insensitive comments coming from the Clinton campaign:

Leadership in campaigns comes from the very top, and the signals that have been sent from the Clinton campaign have been very unfortunate.  Not just in this instance, where they offered a light statement of disagreement in response to what was an offensive statement coming from Congresswoman Ferraro.  But this has been a pattern that we’ve seen throughout the campaign, whether it was the Bill Shaheen incident, the Bob Johnson incident, Sen. Clinton’s own inexplicable unwillingness to make a direct statement on ’60 Minutes’ about Sen. Obama’s Christianity, even though they’ve shared prayer groups together in Congress.  All of it is part of an insidious pattern that needs to be addressed.

Ferraro didn’t help her cause in a follow up interview in which she said:

Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?

Earlier in the race there was a string of race-bating comments from surrogates of the Clinton campaign, including Bill Clinton. This has led to speculation that Ferraro’s comment was part of a coordinated attack. Clinton’s motives are justifiably being questioned in light of the Rove style campaign she has run, including her recent statements which essentially supported John McCain over Obama on foreign policy.

Keith Olbermann discussed the manner in which Clinton has been campaigning tonight and stated he will have a Special Comment on this subject tomorrow. It is far more common for George Bush and fellow Republicans to be the target of a Special Comment from Olbermann, but with Hillary Clinton acting like a Rove-style Republican she is a fitting subject.

Update: The Huffington Post has a report up about Keith Olbermann’s plans to target Hillary Clinton in his Special Comment tonight.

Obama Responds to Clinton’s Claims of Experience on Foreign Policy

Barack Obama has responded forcibly to Clinton’s claims of having experience at handling a foreign policy crisis. Many of the points are similar to those noted in previous posts here, such as this one from last Friday. Obama looks at several of the examples given of Clinton’s foreign policy experience and notes, “There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue – not at 3 AM or at any other time of day.”

The full text of the memo is under the fold.


Pentagon Report Debunks Claims of a Connection Between Saddam and al Qaeda

Supporters of the Iraq war have justified the war because of disputed claims such as that we were threatened by WMD from Iraq or that there was  a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. Of course such claims are not limited to the right. Even Hillary Clinton has used the 9/11 attack to rationalize her support for the Iraq war. While the claims of a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda have never shown any validity, McClatchy reports that a Pentagon sponsored review also shows the lack of such a connection:

In exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida terrorist network.

The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam’s regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

The new study of the Iraqi regime’s archives found no documents indicating a “direct operational link” between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report.

He and others spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity because the study isn’t due to be shared with Congress and released before Wednesday.

President Bush and his aides used Saddam’s alleged relationship with al Qaida, along with Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, as arguments for invading Iraq after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld claimed in September 2002 that the United States had “bulletproof” evidence of cooperation between the radical Islamist terror group and Saddam’s secular dictatorship.

One reason these claims of a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam were never taken very seriously beyond the right wing (and Hillary Clinton) is that overthrowing secular regimes such as in Iraq has been a major goal of al Qaeda. The report also notes this point:

Saddam, whose regime was relentlessly secular, was wary of Islamic extremist groups such as al Qaida, although like many other Arab leaders, he gave some financial support to Palestinian groups that sponsored terrorism against Israel…

The new Pentagon study isn’t the first to refute earlier administration contentions about Saddam and al Qaida.

A September 2006 report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Saddam was “distrustful of al Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al Qaida to provide material or operational support.”

The Senate report, citing an FBI debriefing of a senior Iraqi spy, Faruq Hijazi, said that Saddam turned down a request for assistance by bin Laden which he made at a 1995 meeting in Sudan with an Iraqi operative.

Bill Bradley Criticizes Lies From Clinton Campaign

Bill Bradley, who I quoted last week, spoke out against the Clinton campaign’s dishonesty again as quoted by The Times of London:

Former senator Bill Bradley, who is a leading supporter of Obama and ran for president in 2000, accused the Clintons of “lying” in pursuit of victory.

“The bigger the lie, the better the chance they think they’ve got. That’s been their whole approach,” he said. “She’s going to lose a whole generation of people who got involved in politics believing it could be something different.”

Bradley believes that Clinton will stop at nothing to tear down Obama even if it boosts John McCain, who was confirmed last week as the Republican nominee: “The Clintons do not do long-term planning. They’re total tacticians and right now their focus is on Obama, not McCain.”

The irony is that if not for dirty politicians among the Democrats such as Hillary Clinton it is unclear whether Obama could have become front runner. In a normal election year a more experienced Democrat probably would have won the nomination. With Clinton the front runner, there was not much breathing room for candidates like Dodd, Biden, or Richardson. Obama found what was possibly the only successful way of defeating Clinton despite her perceived inevitability by challenging old style politics.

By waging a dishonest campaign, Clinton only demonstrated why a change with someone like Obama was needed. More than once when I received invitations which are extended to bloggers to a Clinton conference call to highlight their latest talking points I did respond by saying that their dirty attacks would only play to Obama’s strengths and harm their campaign. We’ve seen that this was the case as Obama took the lead away from Clinton in the nomination battle. Clinton’s dishonesty backfired, giving more reason for voters to back a candidate like Obama. Bradley is right that the Clintons are failing to do long term planning with regards to McCain in the general election. They also failed to do any reasonable planning against Obama in the nomination battle.