Even compared to the fast pace of a New York minute, the speed at which Eliot Spitzer made his comeback is dizzying. It appears that the former Governor of New York decided to time his journey from irrelevance back to public life in the smallest measurable unit of time -- Planck time.
He posted his first blog on Slate; it was well written, full of insight and original ideas on the most pressing topic of the day -- the bailout. But something went terribly wrong. Gosh Eliot Spitzer, we're trying really hard to pay attention to what you have to say, but all we can think of are your damn socks.
The road to redemption for a fallen politician has its own logic, and he who runs through a red light does so at his own peril. I'll use the male pronoun here since the political graveyard is littered exclusively with the remains of men, except for Mary Carey, '03 candidate for governor of California and porn actress, who was arrested at a strip club for committing a lewd act on herself while dancing, charged, and found guilty.
"Public officials who resigned in disgrace used to allow a quiet period to pass before edging back into public life," Stephen Bainbridge, a UCLA professor told the New York Times. "Respect for public decency required that the miscreant retire to the country and live out the rest of their lives as a recluse, shunned by society. How far we have come in dumbing down our response to public figures behaving badly. Now we don't even require them to wait a decent interval before rejoining society."
Spitzer seems to have forgotten some rules for the road, thus this refresher for him, and all disgraced politicians to come, about the downfall of hypocrites, and how long the fallen should spend in the wilderness, before attempting to resume a public role in society.
1) After the scandal, you must suck it up and endure the torment of having your bones picked clean by the media.
2) Flagellate and lacerate yourself with your own guilt as your poor wife and kids barricade themselves in the basement to avoid the phalanx of reporters outside the house.
3) Weep as the great American public watch Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, and David Letterman feed you your ego and flush what's left of your dignity into oblivion.
4) Lock your sorry self in your home office and hide the scissors to dodge your wife, whose face is composed in a triptych of silent fury, martyrdom, and promise of future revenge.
5) Take up journaling in solitary confinement and write over and over, "I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."
6) Turn the other cheek when your wife slaps you or punches you in the stomach. Be a man and take your medicine.
7) Tell your children you're sorry when they come home crying from school because someone called you a pervert.
8) Understand the reason that the public wants you to be silent for an extended period. They want you to ponder on the meaning of your fall and the arrogance which preceded it, so you never do it again, for your family's sake, and for the public's sake.
9) After a reasonable time, say 2 years, they will, if you show your remorse and offer an apology filled with grace notes, peel the scarlet letter off your forehead and allow you back into public life.
10) Throw your crooked principles and moral bankruptcy behind a worthy cause for true acceptance from the public. The bailout doesn't cut it, there's a brand gap. The public would prefer something more cathartic and personally meaningful for your rehabilitation -- perhaps something that will help future hypocritical governors, who violate interstate laws to procure prostitutes, avoid a similar fate.
In the meantime, www.zipit.gov.