Whether Rod Blagojevich beats the multiple raps filed against him or not, (see “Blago and Spitzo, Part One,” http://www.genelalor.com/blog1/?p=1645), he will still go down as one of the most entertaining and even charismatic of disgraced politicians of the last fifty years.Â
Lies, subterfuges, hubris, obnoxiousness, illegalities, contemptuousness, and potty mouth aside, he’s still a likable fellow.Â On the other hand, his fellow disgraced Dem, former Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York, can also lay claim to most of those negatives–except maybe the potty mouth–without the somewhatÂ redeeming trait of likability. Â
Charisma is another characteristic with whichÂ Spitzo has never had to contend; he compensated by being a lying, sneaky, hubristic, criminal, contemptuous bulldog.
As contrasted with Blago, Spitzo Â hailed from a wealthy background and all the best schools–Princeton, Harvard Law–and made his name by helping to bring down organized crime’s Gambino family before effectively buying the job as New York Attorney General with the help of a multi-million dollar “loan” from his tycoon father.
If his hubris, his sense of over-weening pride, hadn’t gotten to him before, it bloomed gloriously after that 1998 election as he successfully, and very publically, took on Wall Street and white collar crime.Â Elected governor in 2002, it was soon after being censured for misusing his office that Humpty Spitzo fell off his wall, and off his white horse.
His fall began on March 10th, 2008 with the revelation that he patronized prostitutes via the fittingly-named call girl service, the Emperor’s Club VIP,Â Â and it ended two days later withÂ the announcement of his resignation to avoid impeachment.
Spitzo’s involvement with high class prostitutes for whom he allegedly laid out over $80,000 over a period of years attests more to human weakness than to damnable offenses.Â It was his actions and inactions after the scandal broke that were and are most offensive.
Now, barely two years since that touching press conference and absent any true contrition or Tiger Woods-type rehab in a sex clinic, Spitzo is making a play forÂ re-emergence into public life with a documentary on his rise and fall at the Tribeca Film Festival: Â http://bit.ly/cR73Fi
As Ben Smith writes on Politico.com, “The comeback is audacious, and the strategy brazen: Spitzer skipped the public remorse, the charity-work penance.Â Instead, he is using a sympathetic new biography and the film to try to close the book on his recent past and pivot to what he now openly admits to hoping will be a second career in public life.”
Some people never learn.
A personal message to Eliot Spitzer:Â You knew damned well that you could have overcome a hooker scandal two years ago but you resigned to avoid the embarassment of it all.Â It would have been best to at least pretend regret and not try to stoke up your political machine without even the illusion of repentance.
Americans, even New Yorkers, can forgive lapses in judgement but we don’t easily forgive chutzpa.Â We especially enjoy watching the mighty fall twice.