Africa & Beyond

Governor Eliot Spitzer: A Setup or Self-Destruction?

In speaking truth to human fallibility, Dorothea Brande said “there are seeds of self-destruction in all of us that will bear only unhappiness if allowed to grow.” How true! Unhappiness and misery became part of Eliot Spitzer’s life when he validated Brande and Aesop’s fear. Aesop was a Greek fabulist who had intoned “we often give our enemies the means of our own destruction.” For reasons best known to him and him alone, Spitzer offered his head and his spine, on a platter of Gold, to his critics and his enemies. Why would a man who knew he was being hunted make the job of his hunters easy?

Eliot Laurence Spitzer was the 63rd Attorney General of New York State, and its 54th Governor. Considering his high-powered profile, his renowned accomplishments, and his reputation and mien — he easily could have become the nation’s 45th or 46th President. He seems to be the kind of man the country and the presidency was made for. He was bright, well educated and had a crusader’ disposition. Sadly, without premonition, he fell from grace. The ramifications of such a fall may not be known for a while. His fall, nevertheless, has become too common a component of the American experience.

What is also not known — or at least it has not been established — is whether or not his fall was a setup, a sort of payback by his enemies and critics and judicial victims for what he did to them. Perhaps, as some have suggested, he was a victim of his own doing, a sort of self-immolation hastened by hubris. Or, as I am inclined to cogitate: he was done in by a convergence of several forces. What this essay attempt to do then, is to theorize, to offer suppositions as to why Governor Eliot Spitzer fell from Mount Albany. I offer no legal or testable evidence; I make no evidentiary arguments.

Historically, New Yorkers have always loved an “Eliot Ness;” and in the case of Eliot Spitzer, he was considered the “scourge of white-collar crime,” a man who “built his career on rooting out public corruption and became a national figure with a series of high-profile Wall Street investigations. He also prosecuted prostitution rings.” “He had built a reputation as an ethical crusader.” You cannot be an Eliot Ness without attracting malice, venoms and poisonous arrows. His was not, is not, a city of saints and angels.

Spitzer was admired by the public; but he was feared and hated by a section of the political section. In as much as he gave the Media something to talk and write about, that he was secretly reviled was not a secret. He was also hated by the Republican Party. It was even rumored that a section of the Democratic Party merely tolerated him. To say he was thoroughly hated by Wall Street for what he had done to some of their own is an understatement. Eliot Spitzer was becoming too big for his own good; he was becoming too powerful for the power brokers in New York City, Albany and elsewhere.

According to an acquaintance that lives in New York City, “Spitzer jumped the shark when he started feuding with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.” For a particular group of people therefore, eight years as the State’s Attorney General was enough. Another four or eighth years as the Governor would most likely have “clipped their wings or wiped them out.” As he him self was quoted as saying: “I’m a f — steamroller, and I’ll roll over you.” In the end, the thinking and the conclusion was that it was better they squash him than he steamroll them. In politics as in war, you do to your enemy what your enemy is bent on doing to you. In this case, they got him before he got them.

When it was concluded that Spitzer “had a long history of recklessness, a sense that the usual boundaries of authority didn’t apply to him,” they decided to ensnarl him, or at least exploit his weaknesses — weaknesses that came to the fore in or about the summer of 2005. A man like Spitzer couldn’t have been into commercial sex without someone knowing about it. Over the years, about half-a-dozen of his associates must have known.

This matter is not about a man who enjoys the services of call-girls and prostitutes. All over the world, very many powerful men and women have sex-sidekicks and series of licentious acts they hide from the public. With power come expensive wine, expensive sex and expensive hubris. Power is almost worthless without sexual liaisons. Fornication and adultery is what makes power potent, meaningful and enjoyable in its dispensation. If Spitzer had been caught with his female associate, a female celebrity, or a female newscaster, not much would have come out of this matter.

But with a call girl or a prostitute and by a man who display and expresses such high morality? This was hypocrisy at one of its highest forms. Through concerted effort it was discovered that Spitzer enjoyed the services of the women of the night. He most likely was betrayed by two or three people. Every one has a price. Every one has a secret. I cannot discount betrayal. I cannot rule out entrapment.

Why wasn’t Spitzer disgraced when he was the State’s Attorney General? Why wasn’t he assassinated in order to prevent some of the things he did to them? The answers can be found in two simple reasoning: the first was that the sound and the pain of his fall would reverberate loudly around the world if and when he is taken down as the Governor. State Attorney Generals are high up there, but, as the State Governor? That’s even better! Besides, more time was needed to build their case. Secondly, to assassinate a State or US Attorney General would have incurred the wrath and might of federal and state law enforcement agencies; doing so would have been risky — the kind of risk not even the Mafia, at the height of their notoriety, could entertain or afford. And so they waited.

Come to think of it: why assassinate him, when he himself is involved in activities that will destroy him politically and otherwise. Effectively, he gave his enemies “the tools with which to destroy himself.” As far as New York and nation-wide politics goes, he is now a persona non grata. His public career is, for now, effectively over, his political ambition has been cut short, and his name and likeness will forever be linked to all sorts of depravities. What better way is there to totally and complete humiliate and destroy a man like Mr. Spitzer? For much of his professional life, he has been a champion of what is right and just. He was a paragon of probity. The world now thinks of him as a fake, a hypocrite and as a ma who is no better than the lowest of the contemptible.

One hundred years hence, when historians speak of prostitution and social decadences in New York and elsewhere, his name will come up. And then there is the pain and anguish his immediate family will have to endure. Until the very end, neither he nor anyone in his immediate family will ever forget the pain and the humiliation associated with his fall. Psychological pains are worse than physical pains. If he had been injured or assassinated by his enemies, he would have been a national hero, a lager than life personality. As it is, he helped to destroy himself.

Beyond the pain and the embarrassment to Mr. E. L Spitzer and his family is the larger issue of hypocrisy in the United States and western societies. For instance, the same people who despise and condemn homosexuality will not think twice before engaging in anal sex with their wives and or husbands; they will not think twice before engaging in other depraved sexual activities, i.e. incest, pedophilia and rape. Prostitution is governed by simple economic rule: demand and supply. If there was no demand, there will be no supply; and so consensual sex between two sane adults should not be criminalized.

Spitzer has been stripped of his influence, his office, and his dignity. With time, he will recover and should be able to hold his head high again. With time, he will be forgiven, he will be accepted in some circles and then move on with his life. That’s the American way, the best way. We are a society that forgives and allow for second and third chances. Personally, I do not think less of him. But whether the state and federal laws will be that generous and merciful is another matter.

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