Weiner, Spitzer, and the Green Rule of Sexual Scandal

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is mobbed by reporters while attempting to collect signatures to run for comptroller of New York City on July 8 Photograph by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

My colleague Joshua Green has developed the Green Rule of Sexual Scandal in Public Life. He posits therein “the death of political scandal.”

Green was looking awfully smart after Mark Sanford’s comeback in South Carolina, Anthony Weiner’s candidacy for mayor of New York, and, most recently, former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s surprise announcement that he’s in the race for New York City comptroller, despite being driven from Albany five years ago after his hooker hijinks came to light.

The Green Rule has admirable nuance—to wit:

Neither Spitzer nor Weiner has committed what I consider to be the two politically inexpiable sins as regards the sex scandal: A politician cannot survive getting caught consorting with someone underage and cannot overcome the explicit disapproval of his spouse. It was Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, who ultimately prevailed on him to resign his House seat. But she has also featured prominently in his resurrection. Spitzer was asked whether he is separated from his wife, Silda (there had been rumors), and replied that they were still together and that she supported his bid.

For all its theoretical elegance, however, Green’s pioneering work in this field requires further qualification. I’d like to add a humble footnote, an exception, if you will, to his illuminating rule: You cannot have two of these loathsome guys running in the same town at the same time.

With my last shred of faith in humanity and common sense, I suggest that the simultaneous candidacies of Weiner and Spitzer, albeit for different offices, will create not only a meltdown in the New York Post’s locker-room-metaphor laboratory (hang in there, guys!), but also a backlash among voters.

I live in New York. I vote. This will not stand.

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