John Leo

Dithering. This week researchers are attempting to isolate the gene that gave Williams immunity to SFD, so that they might inject it into New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Their hope is that Spitzer, too, might take some interest in enforcing the law. In his pre-SFD days, Spitzer accumulated a great deal of moral credit for pursuing financial criminals on Wall Street. Experts, who believe Spitzer may have inadvertently visited San Francisco, perhaps without his own direct knowledge, note that he dithered all last week issuing strange and contradictory statements on all sides of the gay marriage issue. He declined to pursue an injunction, sought by the governor, to halt the marriages in New Paltz. Cutting through this fog, the New York Daily News said editorially, "He should remember that public officials don't get to pick which laws they will respect or enforce." This is a revolutionary thought in the Big Apple, where the speaker of the city council has been demanding that the mayor join the lawbreaking by issuing marriage licenses to gays.

Though unwilling to act, Spitzer was willing to share his feelings on the issue (he favors gay marriage). Replacing action with heartfelt feelings is an established secondary characteristic of the disease. For instance, a policeman who refuses to give anyone a ticket for speeding, but who honestly shares his view that the 55-mph speed limit is much too low, could be said to display the Spitzer strain of SFD.

Some researchers are starting to wonder whether the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled 4 to 3 that the state must begin issuing marriage licenses to gays, may have been suffering from a variant of SFD itself. The three dissenters essentially accused the victorious four of making up the ruling with no warrant at all in the law. This does not establish the four as SFD victims, but overriding law and tradition in favor of personal feelings is what SFD is all about. Maybe the four should be tested.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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