I was at the FPA conference in the Empire State Plaza, yesterday. That’d be Family Planned Advocates of NY State. You may remember that you were scheduled to speak there that morning, though with so much else going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if it slipped your mind.
You spoke there last year, and I was honestly very impressed. You were by far the most famous public official whose presence I’ve ever been in, but much more than that, you were unwaveringly pro-choice and pro-woman. Of course, you were at a conference for family planning supporters. But the media was there, and I’ve heard that other prominent speakers have not taken the opportunity to make a statement nearly as dramatic and affirmative. Frankly, I was very happily surprised with your display of enthusiasm and dedication. I’m almost embarrassed to remember how lucky I felt to have you as a governor. I thought “for a politician, this guy is pretty great.”
When you didn’t show up this morning, we were told that you had a “last minute emergency” that needed attending to. And I suppose that you did! Of course, you didn’t tell organizers the reason, and the news hadn’t broken yet, so we spent the whole morning talking about what an amazing governor you are. All of the legislators and other speakers invoked your name a lot of times, and I’d say that despite your absence, you probably got the most applause of the entire morning! That made us look and feel pretty foolish.
But don’t worry. That’s not why I’m mad at you. I have far more important and rational reasons than that.
If you had simply been caught cheating on your wife — who, by the way, I think is pretty cool — I wouldn’t really care. It would make you look like an asshole, but lots of people are assholes in their personal lives and still do great things. Particularly since you don’t try to preach your own version of morality to anyone else, I’d say that an affair was your business. Of course, the media would still have a field day — and I’d think that while you could have easily avoided the problem, they were being unfair. Whether or not you are monogamous doesn’t affect the way that you run the government.
However, you do routinely preach about your support and dedication to the well-being of women in the state, and to making sure that they are afforded equal rights. You do so convincingly, and despite my general political cynicism, I bought it. Between drafting your own bill to protect a woman’s right to an abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned, attempting to enshrine the right to also refuse both contraception and abortion, rejecting federal abstinence-only money, and working to increase funding for family planning, I’d say you’ve done a pretty good job by women up until this point. You’ve even shown dedication to lesbians and bisexual women by supporting same-sex marriage.
I believe in decriminalization and regulation of prostitution. But that is to help keep sex workers safe — not because I believe that men have a right to buy sex. As a woman and a feminist, I’m offended that you would speak about women’s rights out of one side of your mouth and then use the other side to buy sex from women including “things . . . you might not think were safe.” This holds true particularly because I’ve never heard you speak out in any way about how prostitution should be legalized and sex worker rights granted. In fact, as Attorney General, didn’t you bust a prostitution ring, yourself? Oh wait, it was two.
This is what brings me to my ultimate point. Beyond my sentiments about men who purchase sex — let’s place all of that aside — I’m angry and sorely disappointed as a voter and a citizen. As someone who played her own tiny part in electing you, as someone who believed in you — hell, just as a person who trusted you enough to not royally screw all of us over and make the entire state regret electing a Democratic governor for the first time in 12 years — I’m floored by the arrogance and self-centered hedonism. You knew that what you did was wrong when you did it. Even if you didn’t think that it was wrong to cheat on your wife (hey, for all I know you have an open marriage), or to hire a woman for sex, you knew it was wrong to take a risk that would jeopardize far more than your own personal career. It bears repeating that you were Attorney General, for Christ’s sake. You knew what was at stake.
But you did it. You were arrogant enough to think that the law did not apply to you and that the kind of secret Republicans have wet dreams about discovering wouldn’t see the light of day (I found out from a gloating Republican assemblyman while lobbying in his office, by the way — his staff were bouncing off the walls, and I can’t say that I blame them). You know, it’s more than just conceit and egocentrism. It’s just plain stupidity.
In an election year when the presidency is the Democrats’ to lose, and Republicans have been praying to that misogynist, gay-hating god they’ve invented for a high-profile Dem to do something this ridiculously moronic and easy to manipulate. In an election year when we had a decent shot at taking control of the State Senate — for the first time in over forty years — so that we could actually get some progressive legislation passed. After twelve dreadful years of Pataki, you can hardly make it past a single fucking year in office without throwing it all away for a thrill and a blowjob.
Yeah, I’m angry. I’m rather furious, in fact. Again: even if you think that hiring a prostitute does not wreck a man’s credibility enough to require removal from office — and I think that it’s a highly arguable point — there is no doubt in the mind of anyone with two braincells to rub together that this type of scandal is bad, bad news. Whether it should or not, it can and very well might ruin a person’s career. If that isn’t enough to zip your pants back up or pay for a movie at the hotel instead, I don’t know what is.
But let’s look at the bright side. In the realm of misogyny, at least you haven’t been caught raping anyone, sexually harassing an employee or beating your wife. You also coughed up an apology pretty immediately, rather than denying the allegations 20 times before deciding that they got bad enough for the truth. I’m not sure, though, whether I appreciate the small amount of integrity in that action or fear what it means the allegations actually say. And if a massive political scandal is going to break and make national front page news, I have to say that it was pretty cool to be milling in the legislative hallways while it all went down. Despite my disbelief and anger, it was rather exciting, and kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity. So thanks for that — I guess that you were thinking about us FPA attendees, after all!
I have no interest in calling for your head, right now. I think that it will probably roll regardless, and we’re pretty screwed either way. Seeing your history as a prosecutor zealously enforcing the very law(s) you’ve been caught under (for fuck’s sake, money laundering???), I do have an extremely difficult time not demanding your arrest. In the end, I’m just plain sad. You said “I apologize to the public whom I promised better.” You did promise better, and even those with low expectations probably expected better than this.
I don’t know what else to say. But out of the two of us, I’m not the one who needs to come up with something very, very quickly.