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Spitzer: Reflections on a Fallen Hero

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Spitzer and a hooker. How remarkable. So much to lose. So much hubris. A DWI, maybe. Cruising down the Taconic at 80 mph with no seat belt, sure. But hookers and electronic trails of evidence? Doesn't seem possible.

I was one of those who danced in the streets, literally, when Eliot won. Here, the Empire State, the great state of New York would replace the Nembutal governorship of George Pataki with a real hero. Brilliant, brave and, yes, principled. I have not had that sense of pride in an election since Bill Clinton won in '92 or Teddy in '94 or Shumer in '98. I believed in Spitzer and resented those who thought his administration was too ambitious and mean-spirited. Albany is run by thugs and B-level, local politicos, I imagined. Eliot will whip them all into shape.

I don't know what made me sicker: the image of Silda Spitzer at her husband's side, the thought of Spitzer's children or the image of Assemblyman James Tedisco, Republican hatchet man for this event and minority leader, talking to Chris Matthews. "We're in stagnation mode," Tedisco told Matthews. "We have to move this government forward and we cannot do that with this individual here." Is Tedisco referring to that same New York State legislature that the Brennan Center for Justice, NYU's legal think tank, ranked dead last in its report released in 2004? The one that Brennan's legal scholars called "the most dysfunctional in the country"? The one that earned that distinction while Tedisco was seated in the chamber and Spitzer was still Attorney General? The New York Assembly is in stagnation mode because of Spitzer's indiscretions? From the looks of it, news of Spitzer's downfall has acted like a form of crack cocaine in energizing the hopeless cabal of fools who run Albany. Tedisco should call me and I can recommend an acting coach he should work with. The guy is unbelievably awful and awfully unbelievable.

People ramble on about what it means. Another sex scandal. Acre upon acre of bullshit about legalizing prostitution and the male animal's burden of a higher sex drive. What garbage. Every woman I know today is like a man in nearly every way. Ambition, self-appraisal and, yes, sex drive. Men go to prostitutes as human beings, not men. The same forces that push individuals into rehabs for drugs and alcohol and into bankruptcy court for gambling or spending addictions is what propels many men into a tryst with a hooker. The need is for "negative excitement." To do something bad, naughty. Put on a Rolling Stones album, pull down the shades and light up that joint. I'm Client Number 9, now. But my friends call me Eliot.

Prostitution should never be legal. Ever. Selling your body is not the worst thing in the world, but men who pay for sex help complete a battery that is, without question, an emotionally unhealthy one. Every prostitute is someone's daughter. Spitzer has three of his own.

I share with you one thing I will take from this. Pay close attention to a candidate's running mate. Scrutinize him as carefully as you do Number One. David Patterson is the Governor of New York now. And most New Yorkers, regardless of age, education or income, don't even know who he is.