Spitzer's Feeble Defense: Hey, Politicians Lie All The Time About All Sorts Of Stuff!

As defenses go to the charge of having lied to the people of New York about illegal activities, Eliot Spitzer's was feeble at best. Hey, politicans lie all the time about all sorts of stuff, was the essence of Client #9-turned-Comptroller-candidate's response.

Spitzer's lame defense [he literally said: "I think we all know that politicians dissemble all the time about negotiations, on substantive issues and probably on personal issues as well"] came in response to some serious grilling by Mark Halperin on today's Morning Joe.  The Spitzer segment was set up to feature Mika Brzezinski as chief inquisitor, but it was actually Halperin who subjected Spritzer to the closest scrutiny.  View the video after the jump.



Spritzer admitted to past "hubris" and "arrogance," but couldn't give a solid reason as to why New Yorkers should believe he had rid himself of those flaws.  He regularly resorted to the "let people judge me by the entirety of my record" line.  

I'm far from the best judge of humility, but any real change in Spitzer's persona was not apparent to this NewsBuster.  See what you think.
 

MARK HALPERIN: Are there any things people in elective office, high office like Governor of New York, could do that involve law-breaking, lying to the public, that you would consider  as a voter disqualifying. If a person comes back and says: look what I've done for the last five years, look at my great ideas. Or are there things that are disqualifying?

ELIOT SPITZER: Sure, sure, sure. Sure there are.

HALPERIN: Like what? What would be disqualifying?

SPITZER: I think there's a difference between private and public lives. And I'm not the one to begin to articulate this distinction at this point. Becaue I'm in a uniquely bad position to try to articulate it. But I think there is a divide there that is something we do want to think about at a certain point in time.

HALPERIN: But lying as the Governor of New York is not disqualifying?

SPITZER: It depends about what. I think we all know that politicians dissemble all the time about negotiations, on substantive issues and probably on personal issues as well. And so, there's a question of where, when, how, and on what issue. I think there's slightly greater subtlety to this in terms of the art of both governance and how you then determine whether what people have done is disqualifying them.

HALPERIN: One more: an elected official, Governor of New York, Comptroller of New York, lying about his or her personal life when asked about it in a public capacity, that's fine?

SPITZER: No, I didn't say it was fine. You asked if it was disqualifying. We're going down a path here where it requires more time to parse out what that boundary is between private and the public. Now, I'll give you something that's disqualifying: if people lied about their taxes, not having paid their taxes and all the rest, then I think that is disqualifying.

HALPERIN: But you lied about illegal activity.

SPITZER: I lied about personal sexual activity, yes. I did that. I'm not trying to diminish itt.

HALPERIN: You weren't lying about an affair, a consensual affair. You were lying about but illegal activity.

SPITZER: OK, that's correct.

HALPERIN: So, but you're saying lying about illegal activity to you does not disqualify.

SPITZER: I will let the public make that determination. 

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.