Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I have a long list of things to do today for all my classes - write a midterm, grade essays, make updates to the blackboard sites. But I, like everyone else in the Capital District, as well (I suspect) as the rest of the state has had something else competing with the To Do list for the past few days...that would be refreshing various Internet webpages to see the latest news on the governor's scandals!

I am not given to write much about politics here. In fact, the only time I have written anything about the governor was here, in January 2007, and here, in July 2007. However, I have been thinking for the past almost-year that, being no fan of the prior governor, and even less of some of his appointees (I had a major run-in with one shortly after he was elected), that it is important to be careful what you wish for. In other words, I didn't think the governor and his appointees could get any worse, but then the latest jerk was elected, and "worse" got redefined in short order.

Two things come to mind that make that especially true. First, that he has been the pinnacle of hypocrisy, and that is something I can't stand. Second, that his enthusiastic supporters were always mouthing stupid lines such as "we're very energized" by his election, as if somehow having him in the Capitol was going to usher in utopia.

It's a shame that his downfall was a sex scandal, because the most ardent of his supporters will transform the "we're very energized" into statements about how prudish a country we are and allusions to Bill Clinton's troubles, when I haven't a shred of doubt that there are tons of non-prostitution related skeletons in the creep's closet. I admit sex scandals sell, and policy wonk ones don't. On Charlie Rose's show last night, Alan Dershowitz was saying what I have heard from others, that having private character flaws does not translate to being a bad public official and if we use such litmus tests we will eliminate everyone from the candidate pool. I've also read comments that it was just a "mistake," no biggie. How dumb and how naive can supposedly smart people be?

I call BS on those statements. In fact, I was so mad as I listened to Dershowitz on Charlie Rose that I wished someone like me had been there to tell him he is part of the problem. Maybe if once he stood in front of his law students and gave the testy lecture I give students about ethics, cheating and personal responsibility we would have a higher calibre of people in important positions in government and elsewhere. Because private character most certainly does impact public decisions. It has a role in every decision - personal, political, private, public, great and small. But no, I'm sure all Dershowitz does is teach students how to screw people and get away with it. It seems getting caught is the only problem for people with zero moral compass.

You know something? I could not care less about his sex life and wish I did not have the image of that ugly (inside and out, it seems) man not wanting to use a condom with a prostitute. (Bob laments, here the Health Department spends enormous sums on public education efforts aimed at getting people to practice safe sex and the governor clearly doesn't believe in the message.) I did feel bad seeing his wife looking so humiliated, but I also wondered why the h-ll she was standing beside him at the press conference rather than throwing his expensive suits out of the window of their Fifth Avenue apartment.

Regardless, I care very much that he is a person of bad judgment. I don't for one minute believe that this scandal is the only time Spitzer has done something unethical. I'm sure he has more often than not acted unethically, in fact. It was a part of the routine of his life, and until now, he got away with it. And gloried in it too. I'm also sure he surrounds himself with people who have similar values. In a word, "bad." People like that make my job as an instructor and mentor to students so much harder. How many times (12, actually) have I caught a student cheating and had to suffer through excuses, tears, insistence that is was only a mistake and the sole offense (and then caught the same student again)? Yeah right. Mistake, my a-s.

And speaking of a-ses, don't let the screen door hit you in it on the way out, Elliot. Not that I care one way or the other whether he stays or goes. I don't. He's history, regardless. A joke. Which reminds me...he has certainly given the comedians a lot of new material.

In completely unrelated news, I met with my evening/hybrid class again last night. The first thing I did was hand out slips of paper with three choices: Discontinue Hybrid, Continue Hybrid, No preference. I was expecting discontinue to win, or at least that it would be close, and I had planned to divide students up by preference to have a debate on the subject, with the no preference students serving as the jury. But something completely unexpected happened! Continue won by a landslide, so no debate was needed. It seems the experience of the past two weeks was much better than it was during the first session.

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