Spitzer: Opinion on personal and NY impact

To every New Yorker and to all those who who believed in what I tried to stand for, I am sincerely sorry.

— Eliot Spitzer, March 12th, 2008

You know, when I was on the campaign trail in 2006, I had to set up various meetings with my candidate and then-Attorney General Spitzer, a man who entered with grace and style, who had come up from Brooklyn and made a name for himself. When we met, he was confident and ready for change, as the idea of “bringing passion back to Albany” was his key to future success.

The last three days has been heart-breaking; to watch the press continually hammering on his indescretions, and to see a man who once represented hope and change in New York politics, be brought low by this act. And, as with many people commenting on the limited visuals that have been presented, I was struck by Mrs. Spitzer and how this must be weighing on her.

“Don’t Always Stand By Your Man”

I was reading politico.com this morning and came across the following post by Laura Nicols on how it is demeaning and difficult to watch a strong, good woman stand next to their husband as they self-flagellate in front of a nation-wide and world-wide audience. Laura makes some good points (IMHO) where she says:

The only possible explanation for doing what Silda Wall Spitzer did Monday and others have done before her is the age old classic: It’s for the children. But what does her decision to appear aside her husband now teach the Spitzers’ three daughters about taking responsibility for their own mistakes? In this case, Gov. Spitzer allegedly broke the law, broke his public trust, broke his marriage vows, broke his children’s hearts and may well have exposed their mother to unsafe sex to boot.

For once, I’d like to see a political spouse not stand by her man. Stay with him if you choose. But for the sake of the kids, let’s teach them that there are consequences when you screw up this badly. You have to stand alone because of the mistake you alone made. Teach them that there is a shred of honor in owning your mistakes, in facing up to them with no one at your side, in sparing your devastated family a single second of rehearsed fortitude at their saddest hour. Show them you respect their sadness so much there will be no forcing, coercing or expecting that your family will share your very public humiliation on the stage you’ve always sought.

To Mrs. Spitzer, I also extend my heart out to her and her family. A strong woman who has dedicated her life to building a family with her husband and her three daughters – it is truly for the children that is the focus of a family. Watching her on the stage with Eliot has been heart-wrenching. One thought I kept having was “Why does he not face the issue head on, without the “required” support from his wife?” He brought the actions upon himself and (inadvertently) his family. He should take responsibility for his actions, not to include his wife in the scurrilous issue.

As I listened to NY1 commentators explaining the reasons for Mrs. Spitzer being at his side, I recognize and also understand that there is a political “team” between Eliot and Mrs. Spitzer. And in some situations (e.g. Pres. Clinton and Sen. Clinton, State Senator Rod and DeeDee Smith), I can agree. In politics (and campaigning), it is not one person, but two, that are behind the candidate. But, I still think that it is a tough part to play for the wife, when the husband is the cause of the scandal.

We each have a choice in how we live our lives – choosing on a daily basis along the ranges of high honor and integrity to duplicity and scandal. No one is perfect in the world, and as the technology continues to erode our privacy, we have to become more aware that the past that we thought would evaporate into the ether is only a google search or audio file retrieval away. As members of the electorate, we have to evaluate our measure of who we wish our politicians to be, and to act – now, in the past, and in the future.

No one is perfect. But no person should have to endure more than they should for the mistakes of others…even if they are family. Family matters are simply that – family matters. Dishonesty with the people who elected you, that is another matter.

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