I have been watching CNN’s ‘In the Arena‘ the past few weeks just to take a look at Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. I didn’t watch the show in its previous incarnation ‘Parker & Spitzer‘ which never made much sense to me. CNN hired Spitzer because of his take-no-prisoners attitude then showed its fear (aka potential loss of advertiser dollars and the female audience) by adding Washington Post Columnist Kathleen Parker to soften him up. Watching those two banter was like witnessing one of those horrible, awkwardly scripted conversations you normally see while watching the Academy Awards. ‘Parker & Spitzer’ was a painful, eye scrape-inducing endeavor, therefore I chose not to watch it. Thank goodness CNN saw the error in its logic and shuttled Parker off into ‘media-fail’ outer space. I felt a tad sorry for her, but that’s life in the big city, especially when you’re dealing with the Spitzer.
My reasons for not watching ‘Parker & Spitzer’ were definitely different than most people. Potential viewers boycotted the show because they thought Spitzer was/is an immoral, adulterous asshole. Spitzer has never claimed not to be any of these things. Yes, he enjoyed kicking ass and taking names on behalf of the state of New York as Attorney General then Governor. Yes, he cheated on his wife with a prostitute. Yes, he showed an amazing lack of judgment which led to him resigning his governorship. Yes, he is like a heat-seeking missile when it comes to the limelight. But these are traits and actions he has never tried to hide post-being-caught-with-his-pants-down. He obviously believes that he still has much to contribute to the political and legal conversation, that his career and life are not over because of his transgressions, which is why I watch his show. He’s an asshole, but he’s smart, savvy and a fighter.
He deserves kudos for not laying down or walking away with his dick between his legs. Most people would never have been able to recover from such a public humiliation and supposed career downfall. Yet he found his way back, career-wise. And somehow him and his wife have made amends, so to speak, with each other and moved on. If his wife can do this, then who are we, the general public, to condemn him to pushing boulders uphill like Sisyphus or living in perpetual shame like his philanderer-in-arms, Former 2004 Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate John Edwards. Spitzer does not act like someone who has been permanently shamed and that is why some people just can’t stand him.
I am not justifying the fact he cheated on his wife nor the fact that he put the state of New York in a politically and financially-precarious position. However, he does not need the public’s forgiveness for his actions. He knows he’s an asshole. He knows that we know he’s an asshole. He seems to be okay with that, though he probably doesn’t give a shit what we think about him, which is as it should be.
Update: On July 6, 2011 CNN canceled Spiter’s talk show ‘In the Arena.’ In 2012 Spitzer became a host of his own show ‘Viewpoint with Elitot Spitzer’ on Current TV which was cancelled that same year. On July 8, 2013 Spitzer announced that he was a candidate to be New York City’s next ‘City Comptroller. He ended up losing the Democratic primary in September 2013 to Scott Stringer (Manhattan Borough President) who eventually was elected Comptroller. On January 13, 2014 Eliot Spitzer and Silda Wall filed divorced papers. The divorce was finalized in April 2014 with Ms. Wall receiving a $7.5 million divorce settlement. In February 2016 a woman accused Spitzer of assault, an allegation which he denied. The woman, Svetlana Travis, later stated that she fabricated the accusation. The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) investigation is ongoing.