Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Spitzer return provoking squeals

The pundits had their panties in knots about Eliot Spitzer’s return to politics (he announced yesterday for the city Comptoller’s job) after remaining mostly silent about Anthony Weiner’s alarmingly successful late run at the job of mayor of New York. Most of them said Spitzer’s timing was off, that he looks like a Johnny-come-lately, that he’s upsetting the political class and that he was going to lose. Except for the upsetting part, they’re all wet.

I suspect the real reason that Weiner gets a pass and Spitzer a dump truck of poo-poo on his lawn is that the former state A-G is far more dangerous than the skinny professional pol out of the Schumer camp. Weiner is slick enough to sound scrappy in front of any given audience, but nobody familiar with his career will be worried that he will upset any powerful forces out there from builders and developers to bankers or suburban car owners (despite his latest opportunistic campaign photo in a bicycle helmet).

Spitzer, on the other hand, went right after corrupt Wall Street firms and earned their unending enmity. Had he been in charge (instead of the turncoat Eric Schneiderman) during the mortgage banking scandal, things might be a whole lot different. He should be smacked for stupidity in letting his taste for expensive hookers ruin his and our best chance at a progressive governorship, but his run for the lowly office of Comptroller is very promising.

From that post, Spitzer would have the authority to monitor and audit city spending, which is rife with incompetence and corrupt practices. This is exactly what we need, and the fact he might actually dedicate himself to doing the job rather than using it as a springboard for higher office is even more encouraging.

Spitzer might also be believed when he says he wants to do a good job and has a credible record on all sorts of progressive issues like drivers licenses for the undocumented and same-sex marriage before it was safe. On the negative side, he was an arrogant prick and alienated pretty much everyone, but maybe he’s learned a lesson or two from his come-down. I’ve seen his opponent, the previously unopposed Scott Stringer, now Manhattan borough president, and he’s an inoffensive career pol unlikely to rock any boats.

Weiner, on the other hand, is going for a high-profile leadership job that would reawaken his least attractive traits. He’s combative, pushy and loves to be on top, and this is a city that goes for that type—it elected Ed Koch three times. I hope we aren’t about to saddle ourselves with his reincarnation.

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