Objects in Mirror

Destruction upon discovery: Politicians who risk it all

Posted at 8:57 AM on March 11, 2008 by Julia Schrenkler

Would you take the risk if you had everything to lose? Would you risk your family? Your reputation? If you were a politician, would you risk your family, your reputation, your political career? NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been linked to prostitution ring (MPR):

"Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the crusading politician who built his career on rooting out corruption, apologized Monday after allegations surfaced that he paid thousands of dollars for a high-end call girl."

While the law lays out one side of the story. Republicans have called for his resignation, and Democratic Lt. Gov. David Paterson may have to step up to the office. But there's also Spitzer's family to consider. Bob Collins shares photos that tell the story (News Cut) and I found myself looking at them, wondering - yet again - why people risk it all. There are risks that may result in rewards, and then there are risks that can only result in destruction upon discovery.

Several years ago This American Life broadcast a show about monogamy in which guest Northwestern University scholar Laura Kipnis, author of an article in Critical Inquiry makes the case that many people are simply unhappy and pursue affairs. But she made another point that applies to this situation and has stuck with me all these years:

"...I think that's what's so interesting about politician adultery is that... everybody's very morally punitive about it, or you know, that's kind of the usual way of talking about it, but nobody really talks about well why are these guys risking their careers and having these affairs. And you know these guys who are supposed to be so street-wise and savvy and canny in every way putting everything on the line..."

Join the online discussion to answer these questions: Why? Why do they put everything on the line? Would you?

More:

*Gov. Spitzer Apologizes After Prostitution Report (NPR)
*Can Spitzer Survive Prostitution Scandal? (NPR)

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