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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spitzer retrospective 


The Wall Street Journal reminds us that whatever pain Eliot Spitzer or his family may be suffering right now, he was more than willing to inflict that pain on others if it achieved his political objectives:

One might call it Shakespearian if there were a shred of nobleness in the story of Eliot Spitzer's fall. There is none. Governor Spitzer, who made his career by specializing in not just the prosecution, but the ruin, of other men, is himself almost certainly ruined...

He routinely used the extraordinary threat of indicting entire firms, a financial death sentence, to force the dismissal of executives, such as AIG's Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. He routinely leaked to the press emails obtained with subpoena power to build public animosity against companies and executives. In the case of Mr. Greenberg, he went on national television to accuse the AIG founder of "illegal" behavior. Within the confines of the law itself, though, he never indicted Mr. Greenberg. Nor did he apologize.

In perhaps the incident most suggestive of Mr. Spitzer's lack of self-restraint, the then-Attorney General personally threatened John Whitehead after the former Goldman Sachs chief published an article on this page defending Mr. Greenberg. "I will be coming after you," Mr. Spitzer said, according to Mr. Whitehead's account. "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning, and you will pay dearly for what you have done."

Jack Welch, the former head of GE, said he was told to tell Ken Langone -- embroiled in Mr. Spitzer's investigation of former NYSE chairman Dick Grasso -- that the AG would "put a spike through Langone's heart." New York Congresswoman Sue Kelly, who clashed with Mr. Spitzer in 2003, had her office put out a statement that "the attorney general acted like a thug."

These are not merely acts of routine political rough-and-tumble. They were threats -- some rhetorical, some acted upon -- by one man with virtually unchecked legal powers.

Eliot Spitzer's self-destructive inability to recognize any limit on his compulsions was never more evident than his staff's enlistment of the New York State Police in a campaign to discredit the state's Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Bruno. On any level, it was nuts.

There are, we are sure, many more such stories that never made it into the press.

The Journal has searched its archives and helpfully rounded-up some of its best anti-Spitzer editorials over the years. The blogger Coyote, a fellow Princetonian of our era, remembers the hilarious on-campus political reaction to Spitzer's presidency of the Undergraduate Student Government. And, finally, do not forget to peruse the voluminous Spitzer archives of Tom Kirkendall (Houston's Clear Thinkers). Among other things, back in July Tom linked to this foreshadowing article in the New York Times, in which Spitzer had the gargantuan balls to worry about the "emotional toll" that politics was taking on his family.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer, sounding by turns defiant and chastened, defended his aggressive approach in Albany on Monday, but also said the battling was taking a toll on his family.

In an interview, Mr. Spitzer said he believed that voters wanted his passion and hard-charging style when they elected him last November.

But he allowed that the fight with the Republican majority leader of the State Senate, Joseph L. Bruno, had become “ugly” and that Mr. Spitzer’s wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, wondered whether the job was worth the public attacks that came with it.

“You know what she’s been telling me?” Mr. Spitzer said. “She looks at me and says: ‘Do you really want this stuff? And do you want this for your kids and do you want them to see this stuff?’ That’s the hard part.”

He added, “She says, you know: ‘What was wrong with going into the family business? That wouldn’t have been so bad.’ ” (As a young man, Mr. Spitzer has said, he expected he would one day join his father’s lucrative real estate business.)

So, let's be certain we understand this: a mere eight months ago Client #9 was publicly evoking has family's emotional suffering in a bid to extract sympathy from voters he was hoping to recruit to his side in a political battle that he started.

Check.

2 Comments:

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Tue Mar 11, 05:04:00 PM:

u may be a governor
a good crime fighter on da scene
u my be a lawyer
with attorney general colgate
invisible shield gleem
u might be a doctor or a deacon
on da downlow
u might be sitting in pew No.3 left
knowing u done give the deacon good flow...

ha..but you got service somebody..

u gonna have to service somebody...  

By Blogger Mitch Haase, at Tue Mar 11, 10:13:00 PM:

Eliot Spitzer offered me $500 for a blowjob in a Bronx porta potty. I accepted.

Mitch Haase  

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