Phone Home, Eliot


Fred Siegel, whom our own Tim Cavanaugh called Prince Rudy's Courtier, has an interesting parallel career as a demolisher of other rising New York political stars. He's tackled Michael Bloomberg before, and his new target is troubled Gov. Eliot Spitzer (whom I appraised in 2006). It's a bit of a kitchen sink, less an argument against Spitzer's governing brain as it is a K-Tel hits album of his weirdness and blow-ups. Example:

After quitting the Manhattan DA's office in the early '90s, Spitzer toyed with starting a local think-tank modeled on the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, and, in the days when Giuliani was shaking up Gotham, was a rare Democrat saying nice things about the GOP mayor. Yet Giuliani, also a former prosecutor, did not return the favor. He once joked that, after being in a room with Spitzer, "I feel like I need a shower."

Ouch–sort of funny how Giuliani is more cognizant of his roughness than Siegel is, too. Spitzer's abrasive personality has usually been excused with a comparison to Rudy, or Ed Koch, or Nelson Rockefeller, or one of the other family of meglomaniacs who rise up through New York politics like rancid meat chunks up a defective garbage disposal.

A legislator who had the nerve to gently question Spitzer was speechless when the governor referred to himself as a "f–ing steamroller" who would smash everything in his path. Another lawmaker described Spitzer in a private meeting as "eyes bulging and neck veins popping." The target of that attack later said: "I've never seen an eruption like that, except in a child who's 6 or 7 years old. If we'd had a camera, we would have had to have the governor committed."

None of this would matter (and the rich daddy-funding of Spitzer's first campaigns wouldn't matter) if Spitzer hadn't actually abused his office, the fact Siegel and co-author Michael Goodwin get to at the end. Should we have predicted his use of state police to screw over his enemies from his previous behavior? That's an interesting question, especially for people now arguing we should hand the White House to Rudy Giuliani.

NEXT: Giuliani's Escape from the Real World

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  2. “… like rancid meat chunks up a defective garbage disposal.”

    That, sir, is a beautiful simile. I tip my hat to you.

  3. oh Timothwy. How wery wude of ewe. I’VE BEEN AN ACTIVIST LONGER THAN ANY OF YOU PUT TOGETHER. I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *wails. runs off*

  4. Spitzer is a very scary dude. He is absolutely convinced of his correctness in everything that he does, and therefore is justified in doing anyting he pleases.

    Honestly, he makes Rudy look like a model of restraint and clear-headedness. I 100% understand even Rudy saying that he felt like he needed a shower after being near Spitzer. I’ve felt that way just after seeing him on TV.

    I hope he self-destructs, and hard, and soon, because it will be better for everyone (in NY, and even the country if he tries for national politics). He is a very, very nasty customer.

  5. Should we have predicted his use of state police to screw over his enemies from his previous behavior?

    An important sidenote here is that the enemy you refer to here is Joe Bruno, the most scummy of scummy scumbag scum of state senators ever to walk the earth. The man has tons of power, no interest in using it for anyone’s benefit, and then calls conflicts he has with Spitzer a matter of differing opinions and that they should “compromise.”

  6. I saw Spitzer on the Colbert Report. He didn’t give a menacing vibe, but I did get the impression that he wasn’t very bright.

  7. Frankly, I think I may just automatically reject all New Yorkers who seek national office.

  8. Frankly, I think I may just automatically reject all New Yorkers who seek national office.

    Take my politicians – please!

  9. Frankly, I think I may just automatically reject all New Yorkers.

  10. Guiliani’s closest political crony is Bernie Kerik, and he feels like he needs a shower after talking to Eliot Spitzer?


  11. Sorry, kiddies. You’ve had Spitzer vs. the Nasties on Wall Street for so long that even if Spitzer goes a little over the edge, the average New Yorker is still going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    You can’t win when the people on your side all sound (and look) like “The Queen of Mean”, Leona Helmsley.

  12. I’ve defended Rudy as mayor of NYC because New York is full of crooks and ne’er do wells. Spitzer can be a jackass 3/4 the time and still be doing right. It’s just how the numbers work out.

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