Wait and see on Spitzer...

Behind The News
March 11, 2008 1:06:51 PM PDT
It's all a cliché now, once you strip all the new revelations and the drama and the sordid details that are leaking out slowly but surely. It's a cliché because it's just a matter of time before Eliot Spitzer resigns as Governor of New York. It's inevitable if for no other reason than he's incapable of governing; he's political plutonium, and he's no more able to push through legislation or get a budget passed or strategize to help the Democrats regain control of the State Senate than my young children. And that's no slam on my kids.

So we wait. We're told Spitzer, or at least his attorneys, are "negotiating" an exit. Presumably that would include no prison time, perhaps trying to keep his law license, in exchange for stepping down as the Chief Executive of the State.

The man who spent eight years as the chief law enforcement officer in New York made a name for himself -- and made no small number of enemies -- with a relentless pursuit of corruption on Wall Street. Many called Spitzer ruthless and vicious and playing by his own set of rules. But few could deny he was effective. He took the higher road about his prosecutions - and at one point told ABC News Chief Investigative Reporter Brian Ross that those he prosecuted were often done in by their own arrogance.

He told Brian that they nodded when they should have winked, and that they should never, ever have written e-mails, because that gives prosecutors a paper trail of evidence. (Can we say paper trail when it's over the Internet?)

Oh the bitter irony; Spitzer nodded when he should have winked, and the e-mails and text messages he sent to the company that was allegedly a front for a high-priced prostitution ring provided federal prosecutors with a huge trail of evidence, according to the complaint -- where the man once called the Sheriff of Wall Street was referred to simply as Client 9.

Meanwhile, the business of State government has ground to something of a halt, as folks in Albany wait the Governor's next move.

There are people far smarter and wiser than I who can opine about why a guy as smart as Eliot Spitzer would do something so risky, so obvious in its nature, and so easily detectable. Some people have a sense of infallibility, others feel that they don't deserve the success they've achieved, others just can't help themselves.

We all wonder what the Governor was thinking. To say we're on this story would be to understate by several factors our efforts. N.J. Burkett is in Albany, heading our coverage, tonight at 11.

It not for the Spitzer scandal, what's happening in Iraq would likely be our lead story. Several developments today. The first is that ABC News has obtained a comprehensive military study of Saddam Hussein's links to terrorism. The study, which will be released tomorrow, shows that there is no smoking gun, no direct connection between Iraq and al Qaeda during Hussein's reign. The study's based on an analysis of 600,000 official Iraqi documents seized by U.S. forces after the invasion.

There have been so many others who have reached the same conclusion - but this is the first time the U.S. government has reached this conclusion.

Meanwhile, President Bush today in Tennessee, continued his defense of his war. "The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency; it is the right decision at this point in my presidency, and it will forever be the right decision."

The frustration with the President's foreign policy now includes the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East -- Admiral William Fallon. Although we should now call him the former top U.S. military commander.

Fallon resigned this afternoon, one week after he was quoted in Esquire Magazine as opposed to Mr. Bush's policy in Iran. The story described Fallon as the sole voice against military intervention in Iran.

And so now what? We'll have the latest, at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.