Yesterday Eliot Spitzer admitted that he was a client of a prostitution ring, today he’s said to be considering whether or not to resign as Governor of New York.
America loves to build up and then tear down its idols. Witness Michael Jackson, Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, and others who were catapulted to fame and stardom all of of proportion to their talent and then destroyed in a fan and media frenzy after inevitably failing to live up to the hype. Eliot Spitzer is midway through the crash-and-burn process now.
The NY Times says:
"With a reputation for personal probity and independence, he pledged to bring higher ethical standards to the statehouse."
After promising change in Albany from “Day 1,” Mr. Spitzer was quickly plunged into political turmoil, and much of his legislative agenda was sidelined. He gained a reputation for being intemperate and alienated even some members of his own party.
Mr. Spitzer likely will suffer a fate similar to these media stars. If so, it’s one of his own making. By grandstanding big-time as New York’s state attorney general – the so-called "Sheriff of Wall Street" – Mr. Spitzer set himself up perfectly to take a fall of pop star proportions.
Not that his demise is something to be gloated over. Spitzer’s reign as AG was flamboyant to a fault. But he accomplished a purpose, namely forcing businesses operating on his beat to watch their step just a little bit more. We should not celebrate his self-destruction.
Yet it’s clear that Spitzer must fall on his sword, because it is of his own making. Spitzer’s 2004 attacks on similar prostitution operations in New York served to create part of his image as a moral man and a crusader for all that is good and right. Now we know that was hypocrisy of the most blatant variety.
Indulging in the illegal services of a prostitute is a crime and the governor certainly knows that. Yet it’s hardly the worst sort that people in positions of power commit, Spitzer and his supporters may equivocate. Cold comfort. It’s the betrayal of his own standards – the ones he sold himself under to the people of New York – more than the crime itself that requires Spitzer to resign his office, for he never would have been elected to it had the truth been known.