Eliot Spitzer: A Study in Arrogance
I have largely kept quiet about Spitzer. I mean from the start. When he decided to run for Governor, many of my political allies were thrilled. For awhile I heard nothing but glowing odes to the man. I felt uncomfortable about him though, and continued to feel uncomfortable. There was always an arrogance around Spitzer that bothered me.
Still, he was obviously our candidate. I met Suozzi and actually kind of liked him, but...He came off passionate, competent and an excellent candidate...for a Republican. He struck me like Bloomberg--someone who kind of is on the border between Democrat and Republican. He talked like a smart Republican, emphisizing cutting taxes, running as a CEO with a business model for government, denegrated "Bloated Unions." Spitzer got my vote. But not my enthusiasm.
And there was the State Convention. The 2006 NY State Democratic Convention was a disgusting, nasty farce. The assumption that Spitzer would be nominated for Governor and Cuomo nominated for Attorney General was taken to such an extreme that delegates to the convention who I know were told not to deliver proxy votes for candidates other than those two. They were told if they did they would face primary challenges as punishment. Somehow Spitzer didn't catch much blame for this. Cuomo came in for far more ire. But to me Spitzer must have been part of the nastiness of the convention.
Going along with that kind of un-democratic tactics that the State Convention saw was Spitzer's ties to some elements from the unsavory Brooklyn Democratic machine. Carl Andrews, right hand man to now convicted Clarence Norman, is a political ally of Spitzer's. That always rubbed me wrong.
Of course there is the flip side. Spitzer is a force to be reckoned with and that is precisely what we needed in Albany. He is certainly known for standing up to some very powerful, big money interests, though he does seem favorably disposed to developers, even highly dubious characters like Bruce Ratner.
Bottom line was I was happy he got elected, but wondered what we'd get.
The elation many felt never turned into anything. Spitzer went to Albany and stumbled. The State Legislature is a mess and needs to be stood up to, but Spitzer managed to alienate even allies and reformers in the State Legistlature by largely dictating rather than working with legislators. Now had he succeeded, I'd be the first to congratulate him, I admit. But his arrogance didn't help in the end.
I got the feeling that rather than replacing "three men in a room" with a true state government, Spitzer wanted government by one man in a room.
Now this. The arrogance of being the big, tough broom that cleans all before it, then waltzing into an elite brothel charging something like a fifth of a year's salary for the average American for one hour of something most of us don't need to pay for.
Now, it wasn't as awful as the Mark Foley pedophilia that Republicans like Hastert covered up and defended. And he didn't use taxpayer money to get his thrill the way Giuliani did. And he didn't pull that other Giuliani trick, forcing cops to walk the dog while he was stupping. But it was abyssmal stupidity.
Spitzer's arrogance has in essence led to about the worst series of fumbles I could imagine being made.
If he stays on, I hope he has learned some important lessons. He isn't getting anywhere this way. I don't think he has to resign unless he really did break the law. I don't care, really, if Spitzer stupped a slut. What I do care about is the stupidity and arrogance of his actions.
If he resigns, I for one will welcome Governor Paterson. I suspect at this point Paterson has more of a chance to get things done than Spitzer, at least in the near term. Maybe a year from now this will seem like nothing, but for now reform in New York is dead in the water because Spitzer couldn't keep his pants on.