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Missing: Eliot Spitzer

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"Missing: Eliot Spitzer"

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Michael Hill writes for the AP about Elliot Spitzer’s long struggle with AIG, his return to the spotlight, and the dim prospects for a Spitzer comeback: “It would be a long shot. The trail for a married politician caught soliciting high-priced prostitutes would likely be prohibitively steep.”

I have to say that I don’t really understand this. If soliciting prostitutes doesn’t ruin your career in Louisiana politics, why should it ruin your career in New York politics? Spitzer’s decision to resign has always struck me as basically just a case of blinking. I remember when the Monica Lewinsky story broke, and a lot of pundits immediately assumed that Bill Clinton would “have to” resign. And I think that was a real possibility. But he didn’t. So even though people weren’t thrilled with this aspect of his conduct, it quickly shifted from a public debate about his conduct to a public debate about the desirability of booting a popular, effective president from office and he won. I can see why Spitzer may have decided he didn’t want to fight the fight; but that’s ultimately what he did. A politician who’s well-liked by his constituents pre-scandal, hit by a scandal that has no real bearing on his job performance, can usually hang on if he wants to.

And by the same token, I don’t think there would be any real barrier to Spitzer coming back in some form. I’ve heard some people say that they never liked Spitzer’s Wall Street work and therefore they’re glad he’s not around anymore. And I’ve heard more people say that they did like Spitzer’s Wall Street work and therefore it’s too bad that he’s not around. But the concern about the sex scandal is almost entirely a “meta” thing, people think it’s too bad that other people see Spitzer as too tainted.

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