Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Eliot Spitzer's prostitution scandal and resignation as New York governor seem like a long time ago now, but it was just this past May. Is it too soon for him to stage any sort of a comeback?
Spitzer wrote a piece for this past Sunday's Washington Post, laying out the roots of the current financial meltdown. It was pro-regulatory and just a little bit self-serving:
Those of us who raised red flags about this were scoffed at for failing to understand or even believe in "the market." During my tenure as New York state attorney general, my colleagues and I sought to require investment banking analysts to provide their clients with unbiased recommendations, devoid of undisclosed and structural conflicts. But powerful voices with heavily vested interests accused us of meddling in the market.
Nevertheless, there was this voice, crying out from the wilderness. And it came on the heels of Ben Smith's trial balloon, suggesting Spitzer for Senate if Hillary Clinton gets the top job at State.
Now we have Steve Benen conceding that the Senate would be a stretch, but arguing that Spitzer would be ideal for head of the SEC (although, as John McCain found out, presidents can't fire the current guy).
Do we have to exclude Spitzer from addressing the issues on which he has considerable expertise? Issues that have nothing to do with an unrelated sex scandal?
The Anonymous Liberal says amen, arguing that Spitzer's mind is a terrible thing to waste.
The argument is simple. When you're really sick, you hire the best doctor you can. You don't care about his/her personal life. Our economy is really sick right now. We need the best people we can find to help resuscitate it and get it back on track. Or to mix metaphors a bit, this is an all hands on deck moment for the country. We need to put trivial issues aside and put the most capable people we have at the helm.
This is in keeping with Jacob Weisberg's Slate piece the other day, arguing that the Obama administration needs the brightest minds the Democratic Party's has to offer, even if they happen to belong to some anti-social jerks.
I'm all for using talented people, despite their flaws. And I'm normally sympathetic to the argument that a person's sexual issues, even if they slip into illegality, are basically irrelevant to public servant.
But I think it's too soon for Eliot's rehab. One Washington Post oped is not the equivalent of a weepy Hollywood star making the confessional round of the talk shows. And it's not like Spitzer was apologizing, anyway.
Part of Spitzer's problem -- a big problem -- is that he's always been sanctimonious, certain that his own way is the right way. His transparent hypocrisy is why his downfall was so immediate. And it's why he's not going to be cast so quickly in any role that calls for him to tell people what to do.
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