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September 1, 2009


Eliot Spitzer's self-regard vs. the public's memory

Eliot Spitzer's fall

The Post announced today that they've heard Eliot Spitzer is considering running for public office as soon as next year, maybe for state comptroller or even Kristen Gillibrand's Senate seat. Other sources say it's not true, but one described his state of mind like this: "He loves to be in the limelight. But he knows it can't happen."

Assuming the story is true, I was surprised that Spitzer would be talking to anyone about running again after reading an interview with him that ran in Vanity Fair a couple of months ago (which the Post article references) in which he was pretty believably humble and realistic about the permanent damage to his public image.

Are a few highlights from that VF piece:

I asked him why so many politicians are caught in insane sex scandals. "What is it with you all?"

“I’m not going to make excuses,” he replied evenly. “Let me ask you a question: Is there a difference between politicians and anybody else? Or is it that the lives of politicians are so very public?”

“There is a difference, Mr. Spitzer. You were elected to a position of public trust.”

“That’s right,” he conceded. “It’s why I resigned without delay. Some said I could try to ride it out. But I didn’t see it that way. What I did was heinous and wrong.”

The word that gets thrown around to describe his apparent attitude to lying and breaking the law and his failure to treat people with common decency is "hubris." In the interview, he says that's not it: "It wasn’t hubris or a death wish—but frailty, temptation, and common miscalculation."

Then he says he wouldn't run for Mayor for at least 20 years, and probably wouldn't run for any public office ever, to save his family from the agony they would obviously be put through.

These answers were probably well rehearsed, but there's a certain acceptance of how badly he screwed up here that I doubt is totally manufactured. At the end of the interview, he's asked if the prostitution scandal will ever go away:

"No. My obituary's written," he replied with shocking finality. "And that is a very hard thing to live with." When he turned away, I could see he was in tears.

Aww, poor Eliot Spitzer. Assuming any of this is real, the Spitzer in this interview sure doesn't sound like he'd be stumping for votes any time soon. Maybe he's testing to waters to gauge the public reaction, which judging from the Post's "Say it ain't ho!" cover headline doesn't look so great. His little sex scandal wasn't the worst thing a politician has ever done, but it sure was sleazy, and people are never going to forget it.

Maybe he should just become a Republican--at this point his image isn't really that much worse than anyone else in our joke of a state government, and the GOP voter base seems a lot more forgiving of its embarrassing political leaders.

categories: Politics, Sex
posted by amy at 3:45 PM | #

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