Mon. July 8
Have They No Shame? The Disgrace of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer
Apparently, it wasn’t bad enough that Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman, is running to replace Michael Bloomberg as mayor of New York City. But now we have the disgraced, prostitute-indulging former attorney general and governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, declaring his candidacy for New York City Comptroller.
“I hope people forgive me, and I hope they give me a second chance,’’ Spitzer said in an official announcement, touting his experience as attorney general and governor and assistant district attorney. “I have acknowledged the wrongdoing and have moved on. I will ask the public for forgiveness.”
The timing and sincerity of Spitzer’s apology seems a little less than 100 percent honest, though. First of all, it has been five years since Spitzer resigned the New York State governorship over his predilection for spending time and lots of money on prostitutes. Why is he finally asking for forgiveness now, if not because he wants to win another election? Also, he never really paid his debt to society for breaking the law. In this only-in-New-York-story, it is one of Spitzer’s opponents for comptroller, Kristin Davis, who actually did time in jail for running the prostitution ring Spitzer frequented. But the man himself wasn’t prosecuted or convicted for his unlawful acts as a “john”. Worse yet, ”Spitzer not only prosecuted those who engaged in the same behavior he was up to, but cynically led a public campaign for longer sentences for ‘johns’. ”
No, what seems to be the greatest motivator of Spitzer’s return to politics is how well his fellow no-shame ex-politician, Weiner, is doing in his race for mayor. Some polls show him tied with top rival Christine Quinn, which tells you all you need to know about the quality of this year’s crop of candidates.
Spitzer doesn’t deny that Weiner’s so-far successful return is “on his mind,” but what should be on voters’ minds are the similarities between the two men and how self-serving their remorse has been so far.
“Look, I made some big mistakes, and I know I let a lot of people down,” Mr. Weiner admitted near the end of his mayoral announcement video, but neither the video nor Weiner himself have specified exactly what was so bad about his having sent random women and girls Twitter pictures of his privates. What mistake did he make? Seems as if it might just be getting caught that is Weiner’s biggest problem.
Bottom line is that if these men really felt the remorse and shame they claim they do, it hardly seems possible they would be attempting to regain public office. What’s even worse, though, is the possibility that these sensational sinners will manage to obscure their actual records as public servants and voters will forget that neither man deserves more public responsibility.
“I was surprised when his wife supported him, and I’m even more surprised at the polls,” Weiner’s former colleague Rep. Charlie Rangel told the New York Times recently. “You’re not going to call him a great legislator.” And that’s the assessment of Weiner by a member of his own party!
In terms of Eliot Spitzer’s record meanwhile, it turns out that his “success” as attorney general, which led directly to his fame and ease winning the governorship, was based on bullying, intimidation, defamation, and “trial by press release.” People just didn’t want to go up against Spitzer and his minions, so they settled for millions of dollars and the AG was able to claim victory over Wall Street “bad guys” who hadn’t really done anything wrong. Previous to that as a “prosecutor, part of Spitzer’s distinctively relentless style was to demand the decapitation of large organizations by the firing of their CEOs, even in the face of arguments that such steps presumptively punished the execs without a trial and might badly disrupt the enterprises they led,” wrote Walter Olson back in March 2008. His tenure as governor wasn’t anything to write home about either.
Maybe in our modern times standards have changed and we don’t really mind it so much if our politicians fail as people as long as they pretend they are sorry and they are doing a good job as public servants. In the case of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, however, they’ve sinned personally and it turns out failed publicly. Have these men no shame?