It appears as though the kabuki of scandal is being staged around Eliot Spitzer as I write.
From today’s Poughkeepsie Journal, let’s see if we recognize any of these dance movements:
ALBANY – Gov. Eliot Spitzer Thursday repeatedly declined to say whether two of his top aides should have talked to investigators who were probing whether his office misused its power to try to smear the state Legislature’s top Republican.
Well, of course, they shouldn’t have talked to investigators, because in all probability they would either have had to lie or tell said investigators that Spitzer knew what they were up to (i.e., using the State Police to gin up a smear against NYS Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno). Even if Spitzer didn’t know, this is still a lose-lose situation for him because these are top aides, not people hired by the director of personnel struck by a sudden urge to engage in political intrigue. These are Spitzer’s boys.
In an interview Thursday, Baum said he merely thought Dopp was working on filling a routine freedom-of-information request from a newspaper, didn’t respond to e-mails Dopp sent to him about his activities and never discussed the issue with Spitzer.
“It wasn’t a big deal to me,” he said.
He said he didn’t submit to questioning from Cuomo’s investigators on the advice of Spitzer counsel David Nocenti.
Now that last name brings us to the “six degrees of separation” New Paltz connection. David Nocenti is the brother of our good friend Annie Nocenti. I trust that his hands are clean in this matter.
Needless to say, he gave lawyerly advice to Baum. It’s always, ah, prudent not to talk. If someone ever gets around to issuing a subpoena, however, not talking will not be an option.
And this bit of choreography is familiar:
“The counsel’s office in general frowns on testimony from central advisers to the governor, because it can range all over the place and get into private advice we give to the governor,” Baum said.
But the questions that range “all over the place” and go outside of the question of who knew about using the State Police to gather information on Bruno need not be asked or answered, since they would not be germane to the inquiry, but fundamental logic in making statements is not often a part of the fundamental logic of these performances.
There are many such classic moves already in full view:
The issue has become an increasing distraction at the Capitol, with some lawmakers saying the matter has to be further probed while Spitzer wants to put it behind him.
Yes, indeed, Spitzer must be absolutely dying to “put it behind him.” The problem is that Spitzer has managed to inspire a very large and unsympathetic chorus that has no intention of letting that happen. But here’s the laugh line:
Spitzer said any further probes would be a mistake, adding he hasn’t thought about whether the executive branch would resist subpoenas from the Senate.
“We’ve acted appropriately,” Spitzer said. “In my view it is time to move on to the business of the people.”
Gotta love that one. It’s precisely because using State Police to gather information on the Senate majority leader for political purposes is not “the business of the people” that “further probes” are a certainty.
Spitzer is in denial, and if one or more of those aides of his get hung out to dry, the smart money says they make a deal. Either way, this thing shadows Spitzer all the way back to private life. Andrew Cuomo, and others, have a political pot of gold, and the course is thereby fixed.