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July 10, 2013

It’s Not Our Policy to Forgive…

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Last Sunday, just when you were about to get your nerve up to watch or read the news, the story broke that (former) New York governor Eliot Spitzer announced that he would like to return to public office.


On July 7, Michael Barbaro and David W. Chen broke the news in The New York Times, “Spitzer Rejoins Politics, Asking for Forgiveness.”


“His re-emergence comes in an era when politicians – like Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and the New York mayoral contender Anthony D. Weiner – have shown that public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting, and that voters seem receptive to those who seek forgiveness and redemption.


“His decision startled the city’s political establishment, which is already unsettled by the rapid rise of Mr. Weiner, who also plunged into a campaign without party elders’ blessing…”


As if the news that Mr. Spitzer has thrown his hat in the ring for the office of New York City controller is not bizarre enough, the web publication, “Hate The Media” observes, “Client No. 9 running for public office again.


“And guess who will be Eliot Spitzer’s opponent for the office of New York City Controller: Kristin Davis, the “Manhattan Madam,” whose services he used to hire prostitutes when he was governor. As the republic crumbles, Democrats continue to make a mockery of the democratic process.”


Kenneth Lovett, with The New York Daily News also wryly noted: “In an odd twist, the ex-governor – who resigned in 2008 amid a high-priced call-girl scandal – will be competing against Kristin Davis, the ex-madam who says she supplied him with hookers and who is running on the Libertarian line…


“This is going to be the funnest [sic] campaign ever,” said Davis, who went to prison for three months for her role in running a high-end escort service.


“Spitzer, who was identified as ‘Client No. 9’ by call girl Ashley Dupre …. (who) was never charged in the scandal,” according to Mr. Lovett.


Meanwhile, do you remember the story of Mr. Spitzer’s demise? I mean, this is a family publication. In 2008, as the news continued to unfold, it started to read like a bad plot for a “B” movie or a harlequin novel. In New York, even Governor Spitzer’s more ardent enemies were in disbelief when the story broke and passed off the initial reports as a bad practical joke.


If you will recall, it was revealed in March 2008, that Mr. Spitzer had violated his marriage vows and broken a number of laws by having an extra-marital affair with an “aspiring singer.” He mercifully resigned on March 12, 2008, and ended a sensational 48 hours of salacious melodrama of position, power, greed, and human failings.


Aside from the fact that the man broke laws, participated in the victimization of young women, broke his marriage vows and violated the public’s sacred trust, is the fact that he allegedly spent $80,000 on this nefarious activity. Not to be overlooked is the question of what in the world is worth $5,000 per hour.


Ex-Governor Spitzer’s hypocrisy exemplifies the continuing disconnect that our political leadership has with American families. While people at home struggle to pay for the cost of gas, groceries, and taxes, teach their children the difference between right and wrong, and keeping your word, he’s out on the town and blowing $80,000 to spend time with an “aspiring-singer.”


Can you only imagine the difference that kind of money could make in our local community?


Yes, I’m quite aware that the man is a multi-billionaire and he is alleged to have been spending his own money. This, of course, misses the entire point that public office and wealth has requisite responsibilities and many Americans feel disenfranchised and alienated because there are too many “Spitzers” in office, locally, in Annapolis, and nationally, who aren’t doing their job and aren’t honest with us.


Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post on Monday: “… Spitzer is running for office again isn’t terribly surprising. He clearly regretted his decision to resign as Empire State governor in March 2008 amid revelations that he had taken part in a high-priced prostitution ring. And as soon as 2009, Spitzer made clear he wanted to return to politics.


In 2008, the pundits blathered that his fall from grace ended a career that was considered so bright that his name was being bantered about as a 2012 or 2016 presidential candidate.


This comes at a time when public faith and trust in elected officials from both parties, on the local, state and national level, could not possibly be worse.


If the public’s attitude toward Congress is any test of the depth of rampant citizen cynicism, one needs to look no farther that the headline in the recent (June 13) edition of The Washington Post, “Confidence in Congress drops to historic low.”


The ironies abound in the Spitzer tragedy. In his previous job as attorney general of New York, he had gained a reputation as a ruthless boar in his relentless crusade against wrongdoing on the part of Wall Street. In a successful attempt to further his own political ambitions, he made it great sport to ruin the reputations of Wall Street executives, often using the very same laws that – in the end – brought about his own demise.


One of the many golden rules of life is always treat people well when you’re on your way up because you never know when you’re coming down.  In the end, as Governor Spitzer faced a life-altering crisis, he was completely alone with no friends.


Which reminds me of another golden rule. One we may only hope the voters in New York remember in the voting booth. To forgive is divine. To forget is not our policy.


. . . . .I’m just saying…


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