The Speech That Eliot Never Gave
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is for me the most difficult press conference I've ever held, though not for the reasons you may be supposing. The fact is that I am--for the first time ever--going to tell you the truth. We shall see tomorrow, from your reports and broadcasts, whether you can handle the truth.
"It is, of course, no small thing for the Governor of the Empire State to be caught with his pants down; I suppose that jokes about the Emperor having no clothes will resound in locker rooms for years to come. But you are professional journalists, and you can do better than to focus on that. The fact that I chose to spend some of my own money on Emperors' Club girls is absolutely no business of yours or anyone else's; it was my money, and my time, and my choice, and I can tell you they were worth every minute and every dollar. I could talk to you about what my wife thinks about it, but that too is nobody's business but ours; whether she is horrified and about to divorce me, or whether she and I have always had an 'open marriage' and relate all our separate experiences to each other, or whether she joined me in threesomes with some of the girls from the Club, is absolutely our private affair and not yours, and I will not speak for her and tell you which, if any, of those is the case. Mind your own business!
"What I will speak about is that subject of privacy. I have been shaken to the core this week about the lack of it, and forced to reevaluate all my beliefs in the light of what has happened. I have not liked what I found in myself, or in the state and nation in whose governance I have been playing a part; and that is why these remarks are so very hard for me to deliver.
"My dealings with Club girls came to light, firstly, because the Federal Government has written laws about cash. For some years past, it has been illegal to move around any sum more than a few thousand dollars without 'reporting' it to their investigators. I've known that, of course, but until this week, it never registered with me how appalling is that intrusion into everyone's privacy. Their computers surveil every money transaction through the banks they license--whether it's in the form of a check, or a bank wire, or a credit card--and that's bad enough; but they also want to know about how we use our own cash, just in case their knowledge (and therefore their power, for the two depend on each other) should be anything less than perfect. This means that privacy, in this supposedly free country, does not exist. It's dead, and it died the day they told us all this was 'necessary' in order to fight crime, or terrorism, or whatever, and you swallowed that obvious lie and published it with hardly a protest; and that's the first truth I'm telling you today. Can you handle it? Can your Editors?
"Sure--it's fun, isn't it, to report that Eliot Spitzer spend four or five grand on a hooker. How about when you read in someone else's paper that you spent ten thousand more than you 'needed to' on your limousine, or on liquor, or on a luxury vacation, or on some other way of spending your own money that may, at the time, be politically incorrect? What possible, valid reason can anyone have, for knowing how anyone else chooses to spend what he honestly earns?
"Privacy is a dead duck, today; yet privacy is central to freedom. If you cannot do peaceful things in private when you wish, it's no longer your own life. Since privacy is dead, freedom is dead. And my profession--lawyers and especially politicians--have done this thing, and you have reported it, while failing miserably to point out what it has meant.
"But that's not all--it's hardly the start of what I mean to say today. I've said that the money I spent at the Emperors' Club was my own, and it was. Yet, was it really? I earned all of it by working hard as your Governor and receiving the salary that position pays; but every cent of it was taken from the taxpayers of New York under threat of force. Anyone who refuses to pay what the government demands is prosecuted--I know that, for I've been one of their prosecutors--and if he refuses to submit he is, ultimately, shot dead. The difference between taxation on the one hand and armed robbery on the other is only a matter of who is doing the taking. So although I've earned my pay, the ugly fact is that my pay is obtained by theft; I am the receiver of stolen property--just as a Mafia Godfather or Boss may work hard for what he receives, as a share of what his soldiers steal. Can you handle that truth? Can your Editors?
"It goes, of course, to the very heart of what government is, and to whether and how it differs from any other criminal organization. I have for most of my life been a member of government--an enthusiastic one. But in these last days when I've been forced to ask myself some painful questions, these are the answers--and further questions--that have come to me.
"The other main way my private dealings with the Club girls came to light was by investigations of the IRS . This has been called ' America 's Gestapo,' but until this week I dismissed that, as perhaps you do, as the hyperbole of kooks and tax cheats. Now, I can see exactly what they mean. We have set up in this country a vast organization of spies and informers to extract from an often unwilling public a portion of what everyone earns--and if they earn it in ways that are themselves not legalized, then we let the IRS snoop into those activities too. If this were not so sinister, it would be absurd; if someone earns money by selling drugs, let's say, then the law has made it illegal not just to earn it, but also to fail to confess the crime! That looks to me like a double whammy, from a single act. Yet that seems to be what the law says; and you ladies and gentlemen of the Press have accepted this as normal and fair, in a supposedly fair and free country. Well, I used to think so too. Not any longer.
"The fact is that the IRS , as the agent of the Federal Government, is not only the biggest thief in human history, but also the biggest spy in human history, one that's made the real Gestapo look like a bunch of amateurs. Yet whenever someone is put away for trying to challenge its monstrous power, you ladies and gentlemen of the Press have fawned upon that organization by demeaning the protester instead of the thief; and you have been doing that without even checking for yourselves whether what the protester claimed had any actual merit. Have you actually read, for yourselves, the law that taxes what people earn? I'm a lawyer, and I'm ashamed to say I never looked, before this week. But when I did look, I couldn't find it. The Feds are not only ripping off a trillion dollars a year from productive Americans, it looks to me now as if they are doing it without even having bothered to write a law to 'legalize' the theft. Can you handle that truth? Can your Editors?
"The hardest thing for me to tell you today is that for most of my professional life, I have been on the wrong side. For example, I have, while a prosecutor in New York , actively pursued prostitution companies, to put them out of business and imprison their principals. My reputation has been built, in part, on my success in having done so; and I did all that while patronizing those companies myself, for my own pleasure. This was behavior of the deepest hypocrisy, and now I bitterly regret it all, and apologize profoundly to those businessmen and women whom I have so brutally hurt.
"I have also built a reputation by putting away 'white collar criminals' who make money in our State by misleading their clients. Well, some of those were real scumbags and I don't regret at all bringing their swindles to an end--but most of them were just doing what they could to navigate through a maze of laws and regulations that nobody can fully understand; and to those too I offer my heartfelt apologies and regrets. The real fault is not in their infractions, but in the existence of the forest of laws; and in the fact that government above all others is supreme in the business of 'misleading clients'--if you'll allow that a voter is, to some degree, a 'client.'
"Shall I resign? Of course I shall resign. How can any honest person continue in what you journalists often call 'government service' for a single hour, after he has realized something of its true nature? I call upon every single government employee anywhere, who hears or reads these words of mine tomorrow, to do exactly the same and follow my example; we are all working for a deeply destructive organization and must, for the sake of freedom and honesty and peace and perhaps even human survival, withdraw our support from it immediately.
"Immediately? Well, in my case, almost immediately. There are a couple of things I must do first. I am announcing now that I will quit, effective at the end of this week. Before I go, I have some Gubernatorial Pardons to issue to those whom I, and my colleagues and staff, have had wrongly imprisoned and fined--so there's some research to complete and some paperwork to sign. After that, I have no idea what I'm going to do with the rest of my life, but I'm certain of this: I'll no longer earn a living by making anyone offers they cannot refuse.
"That's the truth, ladies and gentlemen; and I sincerely hope you can handle it."