Naturally, when word got out that soon-to-be-ex Governor Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) had a thing for high-priced hos barely older than his children, most people’s sympathies were with his wife, Silda, and daughters Elyssa, 17, Sarabeth, 15, and Jenna, 13. But not political reporters and analysts. They were wringing their hands over how the sordid mess affected the other woman in Spitzer’s life.  

No, not “Kristen.” Hillary.  

The Nation’s John Nichols on how Spitzer’s skanky behavior throws the NY senator’s presidential campaign off message in these crucial days leading to the PA primary: 

Hillary Clinton really wanted the endorsement of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer for her presidential race.  She got it.  Now, however, she’s got another campaign headache. … 

It’s not that Clinton is tied in any way to the governor’s troubles.  Rather, he is a distraction – the big player in her adopted home state who is now in big, big trouble.  The Clinton campaign immediately began sponging Spitzer’s name from the Senator’s campaign website – just as Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s name disappeared from the website of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after Craig’s bathroom troubles in Minneapolis. … 

The media won’t let go of this one, and sooner or later Tim Russert and Chris Matthews are going to be obsessed with everything Hillary Clinton has to say about it. Clinton will be answering breathless questions about all her governor’s troubles, about whether he should resign and, of course, about her impressions of what it means when prominent political players – like governors or, say, presidents in the 1990s – get wrapped up in sex scandals.  

Washington Post White House correspondent Peter Baker explains how the Spitzer sex scandal brings back memories that the Clinton campaign has been trying to squelch from the beginning: 

[H]is apparent involvement with a prostitution ring has not only distracted attention from her efforts to take down the front-runner, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), it has also brought back unhelpful memories of her own husband’s dalliances in office. There on cable television again were pictures of Bill Clinton hugging Monica S. Lewinsky. And the image of Spitzer’s wife standing painfully by his side while he acknowledged unspecified wrongdoing could not help but remind some of Hillary Clinton’s own stand-by-her-man moment. 

This certainly is not the way Clinton’s strategists would have mapped out this week on the campaign trail. They want voters to be thinking about that 3 a.m. phone call in terms of who is ready to handle a crisis in the White House, not in terms of where an unfaithful husband might be catting around town. And, sure enough, the late-night comedians wasted little time linking the Spitzer case to the Clintons. Jay Leno joked Monday night that Spitzer’s scandal “means Hillary Clinton is now only the second angriest woman in the state of New York.” David Letterman offered a Top 10 List of excuses Spitzer might cite, including the No. 1 excuse: “I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago.” 

The Atlantic’s Matt Yglesias wonders whether the whole sordid affair will lead people to “worry about the fact that putting Bill Clinton back in the White House seems to raise the possibility of once again having a Democratic administration derailed by a sex scandal.”  

While Baker calls Spitzer “a bad-luck charm” for Hillary, The Nation’s Jon Wiener takes a contrarian view:  

A woman president is not going to get arrested for soliciting sex in a rest room at the Minneapolis airport.  A woman president is not going to be caught sending hot text messages to young congressional pages.  Many voters may find these arguments persuasive in the wake of the Elliot Spitzer story: if you want to avoid losing your leaders to sex scandals, vote for a woman. … 

The question is not whether we will see new revelations, but whether disgust over Spitzer’s destruction of his career will lead some voters to look to a woman for freedom from sex scandals. 

Of course, Wiener’s argument fails if conclusive evidence ever materializes that Hillary is a practicing lesbian, as has been rumored for years – not that there’s anything wrong with that, other than losing her status as an aggrieved wife by matching Bill’s marital infidelity with her own. 

Then there’s New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who feels personally betrayed, by Spitzer –never mind Silda, or even Hillary for that matter: “I thought electing Eliot Spitzer governor of New York was a really good idea. … [A]lthough Spitzer has been in New York politics for years and years, I never ever heard a single person say, “What if it turns out he’s paying for $1,000-an-hour call girls with wire transfers – you know, like the ones he used as evidence when he was attorney general? Really, it never came up.” 

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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