Spitzer Sort of Backs Down

New York Governor Elliot Spitzer seems to be semi-backing down on the question of whether or not his aides can testify about why State Police were spying on State Senate leader Joseph Bruno. The new idea is to get them to testify before an inquiry led by the state ethics commission in order to pre-empt Bruno's preference of holding hearings in the Senate to humiliate the governor.

This Times article about Spitzer's relationship with NY Attorney-General Andrew Cuomo is also pretty interesting. In context, it helps make the point that in regard to this matter at least, American political institutions are sort of operating as intended. Bruno and Spitzer are going at it, obviously. But Cuomo, rather than acting as first and foremost a loyal Democrat and seeking zealously to shield Spitzer from scrutiny, is acting first and foremost as a selfish, ambitious politician happy to embarrass both Spitzer and Bruno in hopes of himself becoming governor some day.

Much of the crisis in Washington today boils down precisely to the congressional GOP's unwillingness not so much to "do the right thing" but unwillingness to even be petty and power-hungry; their decision to see their job as backstopping the president come what may rather than to jealously horde the powers of their own offices.