ATLANTA, July 11, 2013—Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is mulling a run for New York City Controller. Meanwhile, former Brooklyn Congressman Anthony Weiner is mounting a strong bid to become the next Mayor of Manhattan.
As Spinal Tap so eloquently sang, “The more it stays the same, the less it changes.”
Rock group Jackyl would call it “Bigger than life, and twice as ugly.”
People get the government they deserve, and apparently Spitzer and Weiner truly are the top of the New York Democratic Party talent pool.
Lengthy recaps of what drove both men out of office are not necessary. Spitzer was caught with prostitutes. Weiner sent naked pictures of his anatomy to strange women on Twitter. While the media focuses on made for television movies about moral terpitude and redemption, a bigger picture than the one Weiner sent is being missed.
Sex scandals are a symptom of a much bigger disease affecting both omen. The events themselves that drove both of them out of office were not that serious. What they got away with was far worse.
Weiner may be the only man forced from office due to a sex scandal where he never had any actual real sex. Cybersex and phone sex fantasyland, and alone constitute nothing illegal. This does not completely absolve Weiner of criminal liability. If he engaged in this behavior on government property using government telephones and computers, there could be legal consequences. If any of these women were under the legal consent age, he could face serious charges. He has refused to settle these issues, and those questions must be asked and answered.
Spitzer actually broke the law, since prostitution is illegal in New York. Spitzer even prosecuted others for the very crime he resigned over. His sex scandal was actually a financial scandal. By sending money and transporting his call girl between New York and Washington, DC, he violated interstate commerce laws.
Even if these events had never happened, these two men would still be unfit for public office.
Spitzer and Weiner were abusive bullies. They screamed at staffers, berated people, and treated honest disagreements as acts of war.
Spitzer built his attorney general reputation as a corruption fighter who would clean up Wall Street. Rather than catch elephants, he beat up mice with an elephant club. He harassed low level traders while failing to stop significant bad behavior. As governor, he bullied many CEOs who had done nothing wrong, threatening them with unwarranted prosecutions. He told them he was a “(blanking) steamroller” who would “(blank) them up.” While Bernie Madoff conducted business freely, good CEOs were forced out by Spitzer’s enforcers. AIG collapsed after a good CEO was ousted in favor of a reckless one who played ball with Spitzer. Love Potion Client Number Nine did not cause the 2008 financial collapse, but he certainly did more harm than good leading up to it.
Weiner castigated people throughout his congressional tenure. He brutally attacked political opponents, and used gutter politics involving questionable mailers to discredit primary opponents. Like Spitzer, he used his regulatory perch to help pass harmful regulations that exacerbated existing problems.
Neither man was successful in government. Spitzer is applying to be New York’s Controller, a downward move. This is not without precedent. California Governor Jerry Brown came back as the Mayor of Oakland, leveraging that back to the governor’s mansion. Weiner is actually seeking a promotion to be Manhattan’s Mayor.
Weiner has never worked in the private sector. Spitzer as a child of privilege never needed to work. Yet their supporters want to make their stories about redemption, comparing them to fallen Republicans like David Vitter and Mark Sanford. This comparison falls far short. Sanford and Vitter are regarded even by critics as nice human beings. They held real private sector jobs before going into politics. Sanford committed an extramarital affair, but genuinely fell in love with that woman. They are engaged to be married.
Weiner and Spitzer may not be too immoral or even amoral for political office. However, they might be too nasty. Politics involves working with people, not just steamrolling them. It means reaching across the aisle, not just demonizing people over honest disagreements. Weiner and Spitzer treated politics as a blood sport, which is why so many Democrats as well as Republicans were gleeful to see them fall.
While out of office, neither one succeeded in the real world. Spitzer failed at television while Weiner took a vacation and then planned his comeback. The very criticisms leveled at President Obama apply in spades to Weiner and Spitzer. Neither of these men should be entrusted with executive positions that involve creating jobs because neither one of them has ever had a job. They have every right to rebuild their lives, but that does not mean their existence should depend on our lives. The most dangerous narcotic is ego, and these men are as addicted as ever.
The reason they do not just go “get a job” is because they lack employable skills. The only thing they have experience doing is running a bureaucracy badly and with malice toward many. It is easy to attack straw men like Wall Street bankers when one has never successfully created anything. It is easier to pit people against each other and play class warfare than it is to create value and bring people together.
Spitzer and Weiner can sleep with whoever they like. Yet they should not have the right to screw over the voters of Gotham. We get the government we deserve, and New York has seen their proud city turn into a police state where government bully Michael Bloomberg tries to ban everything from soda to snack food and beyond.
That is the government Spitzer and Weiner believe in, which makes them far more dangerous than mere sex lotharios. It is not what they did with their privates that makes them unfit for office. It is how they treated the public.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, and satirist. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.
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