Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
Amidst all the coverage of Spitzer, what has been lost is any sense of why he was a "rising Democratic star," as he's still described. About corruption on Wall Street and in Albany, he was right. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough sense of the different ways those places would need to be cleaned up.
It's hard to write anything even retrospectively positive about him, as long as he refuses to resign. But this scandal once again reminds us of the sorry fact that the most certain way for politicians to gain publicity is to act in illegal, immoral and corrupt ways.
Who had ever heard of Larry Craig before he adopted that unfortunate wide stance in an airport men's room? Or Mark Foley, before his own text-message trail revealed his inappropriate interest in House pages? Or even someone like Samantha Power, who will forever be better known for having called Hillary Clinton a monster, despite her Pulitzer and affiliations with Harvard and The New Yorker?
It would be wrong to suggest that the Spitzer case deserves less coverage than it's received, including from this site. And yet, when can good governors such as Christine Gregoire of Washington or Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah could on getting national coverage, let alone blanket coverage, because they are good governors?
The media has an admitted bias toward scandal and conflict. Another reason it's hard to be at all sympathetic toward Spitzer is that he understood this. He understood and fed it.
He knew how to cast particular individuals as villains in his Wall Street morality plays, and tried to do the same thing in Albany. He cast himself always as the crusading white knight, incorruptible, pursuing justice and reform and the American way.
Among his many problems now is that the saint who turns out to be a secret sinner is central casting for a 24-hour cable news story.
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