Did he cry, or didn’t he? Eliot Spitzer appeared on Morning Joe today to explain why he thinks he should be taken seriously as a candidate for New York City comptroller — he knows how to invest funds, he’s had serious success in governing public assets, and so on. Mika Brzezinski follows up by asking him how he’s truly changed since the scandal that unseated him in 2008, and what’s made him different. Spitzer gets a little choked up when he answers that it’s the pain that changed him, which isn’t exactly what Brzezinski wanted (via Weekly Standard and BuzzFeed):
Mika Brzezinski: How are you different than you were five, six years ago? What has changed, personally, of who you are?
Eliot Spitzer: A lot of pain. A lot of pain.
Mika: That’s it?
Spitzer: Yeah, you got through that pain and you change.
Both TWS and BF seem to suggest that Spitzer’s trying a little too hard to cry here, but John Podhoretz just comes out and says it on Twitter:
Morning Joe: How is Spitzer different from 5 years ago? "A lotta pain." Then he tries to cry. Tries. Fails.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) July 9, 2013
Hey, Eliot Spitzer–hire my six year-old, she'll teach you how to fakey-cry for $200 an hour.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) July 9, 2013
I don’t know if Spitzer’s near-tears are genuine or not, and frankly, it’s beside the point. Mika’s reaction of “That’s it?” comes to the real point. Don’t forget that Spitzer’s transgression, unlike that of Anthony Weiner, was a public breach of trust. Spitzer had won political office in part by campaigning on his prior prosecution of lower-priced prostitution rings, loudly demanding more power to target human trafficking they represented, all the while enjoying the favors of higher-priced prostitution rings. What Weiner did was weird and should be a personal disqualification for public office, but what Spitzer did as governor with responsibility for law enforcement was a violation of the law, as well as a massive example of personal and official hypocrisy.
The answer to Mika’s question should have addressed that issue. Instead, it’s still all about Spitzer, which should be a big red flag to voters in New York City.
Update: The Wall Street Journal reminds us that this isn’t the only abuse of power that New Yorkers should recall:
He is no doubt hoping that New Yorkers have forgotten that even before his use of prostitutes forced him to resign in 2008 (see “Notable & Quotable” nearby), his popularity was falling thanks to his abuse of power. His staff had been caught using New York’s state police to gather dirt on a political adversary. Mr. Spitzer, who as a candidate promised to reform Albany, had quickly become its most disturbing symbol, a man who would destroy opponents for his own political agenda.
This was the same Eliot Spitzer who as Attorney General called John Whitehead after the former Goldman Sachs chairman published an article on this page defending former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg. “I will be coming after you,” Mr. Spitzer said, according to Mr. Whitehead’s account. “You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done.” …
After he used the threat of a corporate indictment and death penalty to force AIG’s board to fire Mr. Greenberg, the new management made the giant mortgage bets that would inflame the financial crisis. Shareholders also suffered greatly when Mr. Spitzer forced a management decapitation at insurance broker Marsh & McLennan and installed as CEO Mike Cherkasky, a nice guy who knew nothing about insurance. …
To this day, Mr. Spitzer is encouraging the AG’s office to resist a judge’s order to search Mr. Spitzer’s private emails for communications related to AIG and Mr. Spitzer’s contacts with the media. An appeal of the judge’s order is scheduled for argument in September. A true public servant would insist on transparency for such documents that clearly aren’t privileged. But Mr. Spitzer knows that the methods he used to attack prominent New Yorkers would not look better in the sunlight.
This is the Spitzer political method, yet now he wants control of New York City’s pension funds. Normally we wouldn’t care much about a candidate for NYC comptroller, but putting this guy back in any job with discretionary power would be like putting Dennis Kozlowski back in charge of Tyco.