If you took a fall, would you want another chance to make it right?
I am a big Eliot Spitzer fan. I think he’s extraordinarily bright and genuinely has the best wishes of most New Yorkers in mind. He is, as we all know, fearless, sometimes too fearless and he makes powerful enemies like some of the biggest rats on Wall Street and has alienated certain billionaire tabloidists who needn’t be named here. The newspapers have not been kind to Spitzer or Anthony Weiner but that didn’t stop Anthony Weiner or Spitzer from rising to the top of the mayoral contenders in recent polling. Now Spitzer has collected the necessary petitions to run for comptroller. In fact, there is some evidence that people have less regard for newspapers, particularly the tabloid papers than they do for politicians.
I like Spitzer’s competitor for New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer, but Spitzer knows how to think outside the box. I respect the fact that he doesn’t like the government giving money to public radio stations including the ones I run. I can tell you that Spitzer and his family are committed to supporting public radio stations. Spitzer’s position is that when any politician gives public money to a media outlet, he or she will eventually want to control what those outlets do or say. Spitzer is a very successful businessman. He knows how to bring ethical business practices to the governmental sphere. In an age of sequesters and government cutbacks this is a man who will know how to squeeze every dollar. Just look at the way he has been running the Spitzer real estate empire in New York. What he has done in business he can do in government as the man in charge of New York City’s money.
Of course, Spitzer took a mighty tumble and he let a lot of people down. He knows that. My bet is that he wants back in the game because he wants to put things right and he wants to get up and make a contribution. When he was attorney general he was the sheriff of Wall Street. For those of you who saw the great documentary “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” you saw a man who was capable of great self reflection. When asked whether he had powerful Wall Street, insurance and banking forces, arrayed against him, he answered that he did but he also said that they couldn’t have gotten him if he didn’t do wrong.
My suggestion is that every one of us takes a look in the mirror and ask whether, if we took a fall, would we want another chance to make it right. The toll on Spitzer and his family has been horrific. He can live with that stain forever and move on or he can fight the good fight, in the same way the fighting attorney general Spitzer did when he took on the dark forces of greed. I recently read a columnist who thought that Spitzer should let someone else have a chance at public service. I think that the guy got it wrong. Spitzer did fight a heroic fight on Wall Street. I cannot think of anyone who made a mark in that area anywhere near what Spitzer achieved. The reason that so many of the good old boys are so aligned against Spitzer is that he is a man who has a penchant for upsetting the apple cart. I think that they are just plain afraid of a man who speaks his mind.
Redemption is something that most Americans understand, whether we, or one of our kids, or our best friend messed up. There are those of us who know that if Eliot Spitzer is returned to office he will make a mighty contribution. He will transcend the “same old, same old,” politics of the usual and can achieve real change. We know that this is a man who has looked deeply into his own character and who has determined to take his chance and to face the firestorm that his come his way. It takes a lot of courage to look your devils in the eye and to damn the torpedoes. I’m proud of him and I wish him the best.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 7/15/13