Snaring Spitzer

Given the Bush administration's record, it's natural to wonder about foul play in the investigation that wound up with Elliot Spitzer's penchant for hookers all over the front pages. And this does indeed seem pretty fishy to me -- investigators, knowing that Spitzer was an Emperor's Club client, seem to have kept their wiretap running even after they had all the evidence they needed to bust the prostitution ring, waiting until they could catch a call from Spitzer, and then once Spitzer was implicated rolled the case up.

On the other hand, this is sort of the good kind of partisan motivated prosecutions. To a large extent the American political system depends on the idea that partisan motives will cause public corruption to be exposed. Spitzer was a rising star, so incentives exist for his political enemies to try to wreck his career. And wreck it they have. But they wrecked it with some bona fide dirt -- whether or not you think prostitution ought to be legal, it unquestionably isn't legal, and governors aren't supposed to be breaking the law. This isn't a trumped-up charge or an innocent man getting railroaded.

All of which reminds me, naturally enough, of The Wire. How is it that the Republican incumbent and his friend the US Attorney manage to let Carcetti's vast coverup go unexposed?