Monday, April 26, 2010

Shame On Eliot

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace in 2008 after being caught in a prostitution scandal, is trying very hard to reemerge on the public scene. But he made too many powerful and wealthy enemies who will stop at nothing to keep the "Luv Gov" down.

The "Untitled Eliot Spitzer Film" was shown Saturday night at the Tribeca Film Festival before a nearly full auditorium that included some of New York's leading figures. Notably absent were Eliot Spitzer and Ashley Dupre.

This important film is the work of Academy Award winning documentary director Alex Gibney, who announced that he was still tweaking the movie. The film is being portrayed as sympathetic to Spitzer by those whole disliked him. Nonetheless, it candidly tells the story of a brilliant man with great potential who attacked corruption and cronyism on Wall Street and in Albany. But Spitzer was a brash and arrogant bully who tried to steamroll his opponents before suffering a humiliating downfall.

Perhaps the fact that Spitzer participated in the film, he was interviewed four times, is a sign of how desperate he is to put his sins behind him. And in a surreal twist, Spitzer call girl Ashley Dupre did not participate in the documentary because she wanted “total editorial control,” according to Gibney. Of course, Dupre is now a New York Post columnist, a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and she will be featured in the May edition of Playboy Magazine.

One of Spitzer's powerful enemies who did appear was former Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who is facing federal corruption charges. Another, billionaire businessman and former New York Stock Exchange Board member Ken Langone, who was targeted by Sptizer for giving Dick Grasso, the former head of the NYSE, a giant pay package in 2003. Langone has relished in Spitzer's fall, once saying, "We all have our own private hells. I hope his private hell is hotter than anybody else's." It is clear he will do all he can to stop Spitzer from rising out of the ashes.

The movie raises questions about why the United States Attorney focused so heavily on investigating Spitzer. Could it have been because the Bush Justice Department was under attack from Democrats for earlier firing several U.S. attorneys for political reasons? Did Langone have then Governor Spitzer under private surveillance? Or was it really a coincidence that Langone knew someone standing in line at the post office while Spitzer purchased $2400 in money orders? Is News Corp's Rupert Murdoch doing all he can to counter program Spitzer's comeback efforts? What role did Republican strategist Roger Stone have in Spitzer's fall? After the screening Stone said, "It's completely biased, the filmmaker has a number of key facts wrong."

Throughout the movie one can't help but feel sympathy for Spitzer's family. His wife Silda has shown enormous courage and strength throughout this painful ordeal. When the former governor resigned he vowed to turn his focus to his family. Yet, barely two years after dragging his family through such a difficult and embarrassing period, why is Spitzer increasing his public exposure? He would certainly say he is qualified to make a contribution to reforming Wall Street. But isn’t there a less public way to make a difference?

At one point Spitzer says, “Not to mince words, my view is I brought myself down… I did what I did, and shame on me.” Are these the words of a man who has learned from his mistakes?

No comments: