Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finally, Something To Distract Us From This Primary Nonsense

So he's quitting, we know that. But there's been lots more coverage, it seems, on Spitzer's wife standing painfully at his side through two crappy press conferences.

I know I have a reader who was, if memory serves, gonzo over Spitzer when he was running for Governor.

So, are you there and if so, got anything to say about this? I'm bummed for you - no one should have to see someone they believe in exposed as a jerk.


Anonymous said...

I just saw this column (although I have been dodging phone calls and it has taken me a few days to recover from the shock) and I would guess you were referring to me, because you probably know I met Spitzer long before he ran for office and stayed in loose contact ever since and I think I posted some praise for him here when he first filed for Governor.

As far as the whole thing, I feel very sad that he fell this far. There is not much I can add to what has already been in the media. I could talk about the love I think he has for his wife and family, but that probably qualifies as nothing more than words right now and it is up to him to put it back together again.

I guess I would say that anyone who knew Spitzer even slightly was aware that he was incredibly frustrated by the political gamesmanship that was going on in Albany and I would hope this was a huge mistake made partly out of an emotional reaction to the political pressure, rather than something that will prove to be an ongoing personal failing, but once again, those are just words right now.

I do know that at least two Wall Street insiders and convicted of crimes held open parties for their friends to celebrate what happened and that of course is disgusting and repulsive.

I don't usually go black helicopter (meaning believe in conspiracy theories) but given Spitzer's emotional state lately and the mob involvement with the prostitution racket something in me does wonder about the possibility of a setup. But of course that goes with the territory.

But more than that idea which may be nothing more than whining on my part, the whole thing raises the weakness in democracy which of course is that we have to rely on real people to make good decisions consistently.

Eliot Spitzer built a reputation by attacking the idea that acquiring money was the most important thing in our society.

As some of his enemies pointed out, he inherited wealth, but He also honestly believed as many (including those on the left) do not, that capitalism could work with government playing the role of referee and that the people at the top would do their jobs of honestly policing the rich and famous without giving them special privileges if a few people would step forward honestly. He viewed a lot of what goes on in the political world today as a product of the media promoting a culture of selfishness and really thought it could be (and needed to be) changed. He had no problem with an Alex Keaton as long as he played by the rules.

He never shied away from the successful and he never launched grandstanding attacks or used an "us vs. them" approach to politics. But he saw a system he thought could work if the rules were enforced and he made sure they were on his watch.

That was rare enough in politics that he drew an incredible following and an important job where one would hope he could have done more.

But even before this stuff happened, it was clear the special interests were beating him pretty badly in New York and that frustration and looking for instant gratification was leading a lot of his staffers to make incredibly stupid decisions.

Spitzer merely finished the job of the entrenched powers by not taking care of his personal life, which is too bad. But what is worse is that once again a person who honestly built a successful career without cutting corners or playing games, but instead tried to do his job honestly has come up short, while so many that cater to the whims of the very successful or to the emotions of a mob mentality, continue to be successful.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is helicopter land. I think he's just a dude like other dudes and sometimes dude makes stupid choices.

I also believe the guy does love his wife and kids. And as this article discusses - - it's probably a biological twitch that, while inexcusable, at least has a reason.

My only wonder is why on earth he would feel the need to pay for tail. It's safe to say with 100% certainty that there would have been many, MANY free opportunities to do a hot young thing, should he have so desired. Probably hot young smart things at that (not to imply the hooker was stupid or to judge based on appearances, but I have yet to read she was funding her way through grad school).

And I think the amount he spent on hookers and the time he took setting up the contact we know about implies this wasn't a product of stress-thinking.

And I think you can be an ass in one aspect of life, but honorable in others. He probably was doing a fine job executing the laws of the state of New York. but we don't give points for that when other stuff comes out.

Anonymous said...

I hate to go along with you, because I have seen too many things in life (teachers hitting on students, bosses on people that work for them, etc.) where it is justified by biological need and even though we all have wants and desires, I don't believe what the scientist in the column you posted was basically saying (at least in my opinion) which is that it is uncontrollable or at least dominating and by implication that horrible behavior should get an understanding sympathy from the rest of us who really are just titttilated by the whole thing. It's like the old insult about women only looking for guys because of looks or money. There is some truth to it and it is even completely true with a small number of people, but I don't think it's true of the vast majority. But it is a stereotype the media contributes to.

As far as your question about paying for it, that is a big part of why I would like to think the stress and his competitiveness had more to do with it than anything else. Beyond the fact that he could have hired a young woman as an aide for a lot of money as many politicians have done in the past, Eliot's father is if not a billionaire, very close. He could have gotten any woman who was looking for cash, a great job through his dad's companies and no one would have been the wiser. In fact he could have even hired every single woman who worked for that service if he just wanted to get some in his spare time.

But as I said, I think he was very frustrated by what went on in Albany. He had a different take on politics from virtually all elected officials today and thought he could use his popularity to build a constantly changing bipartisan alliance to get things done.

What he didn't realize was the power of a few insiders that never forgot when he had gone after them. He also never fully understood the power that political organizations and big contributors could bring to bear on legislators.

Over and over, legislators would agree to support something he was for only to cave under pressure from party leaders or big special interests. He could understand if they told him up front they wouldn't be there, but the cowardice of so many was an attitude which was just foreign to him.

Then after seeing that happen again and again, he tried to go in with prominent leaders in a legislators community to really make the push to get them on board. These people would sign off on supporting whatever the agenda was, then these same community leaders would go into hiding when push came to shove because they suddenly realized that they might be offending "the goose that laid the golden egg" for them in some other way. To Eliot Spitzer, cowardice like that was such a foreign concept that he never could understand it and it wore on him.

On top of that, his staff who were very bright and much more qualified than most politicians never quite understood Spitzer and often thought in what I would call conventional terms and made rookie mistakes because they didn't really understand the system that early and that wound up serving him badly and almost eliminated his agenda.

I think you can tell that I am not taking this well, but to me the Eliot Spitzer I think of is the guy who spent a year hitchiking across the country while working at construction jobs because he didn't want to just be a spoiled rich guy behind a desk. Unlike many who do it for personal glory, I will always believe that he went into politics because he thought those people were being shortchanged by the very people they chose to protect their interests and like the guy in school who steps up for another student against the school bully, I think he wanted to take on the special interests, but to use another analogy, like a fighter who can't keep his left up, he got knocked out early in the fight. Too bad!

Anonymous said...

First, I think you misread that article about the biology. It's a reason, not an excuse. We're supposed to be above that animalistic behavior.

But I think more than that, you are coming at this from a really weird angle. Stress doesn't make you buy a hooker for the night. He wasn't set up. He's human with failings.

He can be a brilliant politician, policymaker, academic, lawyer, whatever, and still be an idiot in other areas.