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The public pressure on Mr. Spitzer to resign will be enormous, if only because he has set new records for self-righteousness among American politicians.

He would seem to have few other options in an atmosphere where Democrats are poised to take over the State Senate, although perhaps he can pull a Berlusconi and seek to repeal the Mann Act or have prostitution legalized.

Why was David Vitter allowed to stay in the U.S. Senate despite his prostitutional inclinations? Perhaps Spitzer's reputation for crime fighting trumps Vitter's moralizing. To me, both hypocrises are equivalent and fairly irrelevant.

There is a script to these things.

First, the politician acknowedges the gravity of the infraction. Mr. Spitzer's brief public statement did not do so. This isn't about prostitution. It's about -- allegedly -- Gambino crime family money laundering.

Then the politician apologizes for unspecified obligation failings. This, Mr. Spitzer did.

Then the politician retreats into a period of solitude, and then acknowledges some congenital defect or longstanding condition, such as alcoholism. TBD.

Public pressure, aided and abetted by the media, mounts. TBD.

The politician either figures out what the public wants, or he does not -- and proceeds accordingly. TBD.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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