Two awkward things happened in Democratic politics this week:
NYTimes: Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who gained national prominence relentlessly pursuing Wall Street wrongdoing, has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a law enforcement official and a person briefed on the investigation.
ABC News: Sen. Barack Obama's pastor says blacks should not sing "God Bless America" but "God damn America."
What do they have in common? Gotcha politics, that's what. Scott Horton at Harper's had a lot to say about the tail wagging the dog:
The Justice Department has yet to give a full account of why they were looking into Spitzer’s payments, and indeed the suggestion in the ABC account is that it didn’t have anything to do with a prostitution ring. The suggestion that this was driven by an IRS inquiry and involved a bank might heighten, rather than allay, concerns of a politically motivated prosecution.Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast has a lot to say about the manufactured and marketed outrage over Obama's pastor's remarks:
All of these facts are consistent with a process which is not the investigation of a crime, but rather an attempt to target and build a case against an individual.
Frankly, while I find Rev. Wright's words and tone to be unnecessarily inflammatory, I also find that I don't have a lot of argument with anything he said.
We live in a culture that has been defined by victimology ever since the 9/11 attacks. We like to think we are a strong people, but look at how Americans have behaved over the last six-plus years. Yes, this country endured a terrible attack. Thousands lost their lives on September 11, 2001. But it is not "hating America" to say that we have to look at our policies and the leaders we have supported, often under the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" doctrine, to LEARN from what happened and avoid similar situations in the future.
There's no getting around the fact that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were directly spawned by American policy -- in this case, arming the Afghan Mujahadeen against the Soviets during the latter's invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1980's. There's also no getting around the fact that the American policy of "Israel By Definition Can Do No Wrong" has contributed to the mess we now find in the Middle East.
Indeed. Both men acted rashly, foolishly, and needed to step aside. Elliot, dude, what were you thinking? Go away, think about it, have a drink with Gary Hart, and in a year or so you'll be a regular pundit on the talking head shows. Like Dick Morris.
And Rev. Wright, you know the old adage about the efficacy of honey vs. vinegar? You could have made your point wonderfully, eloquently, and with less self-sabotage by not saying "God Damn America". You're like an over-the-top soul singer who spins every note into a 3 octave cadenza, just to hear the sound of their own voice.
Just because you can doesn't mean you have to.