Not very long ago, Eliot Spitzer was governor of New York, and many people believed he had the skills and potential to be president of our country. But his personal life came crumbling down when the public learned that he was sexually involved with women provided by an escort service. Now, Spitzer has decided to make a comeback, and run for the office of New York City comptroller.
America has a long history of forgiving politicians for improper behavior. Often, sexual escapades are revealed and the public shrugs it off. In such instances, the competence of the elected official is presumed to outweigh his or her overactive libido. Former President Bill Clinton is, by far, the most sensational example of the public’s desire to give sexual miscreants a second chance.
Over the past few years, Spitzer made amends with his loved ones, had a few talk-show appearances that were not well received, and was active in his family’s real estate business. Yet politics continues to seduce Spitzer, and he is now attempting to get back into the political arena as a candidate. This process began with several rounds of apologies and self-flagellation, which are prerequisites for a returning, shamed politician.
Ironically, Spitzer’s political reemergence is happening at the same moment as that of former congressional representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned after a Tweeting scandal and is now running for mayor of New York City. The comparisons between the men are difficult to ignore. Is exposing yourself digitally worse than hiring escorts? Each man has a reputation for being competent, as well as aggressive and domineering, character traits that usually serve politicians well.
Spitzer graduated from Harvard Business School and was elected attorney general of New York State, where he made his bones by exposing corruption and by being the bane of Wall Street. As governor, his record was mediocre at best and his personality and interpersonal skills were problematic, but his competence and grasp of the issues was never in question.
The comptroller position would be a huge step down for Spitzer, but is a logical office for him to pursue, given the circumstances. The comptroller is responsible for a huge New York City pension fund and is the caretaker of the city’s finances. Spitzer could handle this job with both hands tied behind his back.
What is Spitzer’s endgame? He wants to put the scandal behind him and once again serve the people (and his political ambitions). And he wants to impress New Yorkers with his political and technical skills.
Eliot Spitzer has his faults, like we all do. Yet he is an exceptional politician, and a great intellect. I do not always agree with his perspectives, but would be enthusiastic about seeing him back in office, especially when I look at the alternatives. Perhaps, with this second chance, Spitzer will convince us that he is once more worthy of an even higher office.