7.9.13 Eliot Spitzer: “public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting” …

The Spitzer Myth, sex scandals, political poison, Molly Ball – The Atlantic:  Hell, why not? First Sanford, Then Weiner, now Spitzer . What ever happened to shame?   Years ago, i had a political argument with a brilliant attorney who told me that Bill Clinton’s sex life had nothing to do with his political life.  I meekly replied  that I could not vote for someone who I did not want to share a room with, i.e. who he had sex with and under what circumstances affected my opinion of his character, political and otherwise.  I was in the minority then and I am now, probably even more so.  I laugh now when I realize that i still do not want to share a room with the political likes of Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner or Mark Sanford, or vote for him, not do I want to share a room with the men or women of the religious right.  I do not respect either in their treatment of women.

Eliot Spitzer is running for office again, just like Anthony Weiner and Mark Sanford before him. This trio of would-be sex-scandal comebacks has prompted many to speculate that Americans are not as shocked by sex scandals as they once were, and that we live in an age that is setting a new bar for shamelessness. As the New York Times put it in the Sunday evening story announcing Spitzer’s return: “His re-emergence comes in an era when politicians … have shown that public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting.”

There seems to be a pervasive sense that sex scandals were once career-killers, and that if Spitzer and Weiner succeed as Sanford did, they will have accomplished something rare indeed. But there are plenty of examples of politicians who weathered the storm of scandal and got reelected, from Louisiana Senator David Vitter, reelected in 2010 with 57 percent of the vote three years after admitting he patronized an escort service, to Bill Clinton, elected president after numerous so-called “bimbo eruptions.”

Technically, neither Spitzer, Weiner, or Sanford was tossed out of office for his improprieties — all three resigned or retired. We can’t know whether they would have lost had they stood pat. (Being politicians, they likely consulted pollsters who told them things weren’t looking good.) But Newt Gingrich’s marital infidelities didn’t drive him from office; Ted Kennedy declined to resign after Chappaquiddick and never lost a Senate election, though he didn’t win the presidency. Back in 1884, Grover Cleveland was elected president despite publicly acknowledging an illegitimate child. After Arkansas Rep. Wilbur Mills was arrested for drunken driving in 1974, an Argentinian stripper jumped out of the car; less than a month later, Mills was reelected with 60 percent of the vote. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee was recently reelected despite multiple affairs and a tape recording of the congressman, a medical doctor who opposes abortion rights, pressuring one mistress to have an abortion.

There’s plenty of precedent for Spitzer et al. to believe voters will see past their abhorrent behavior. But there are also plenty of counter-examples, like Gary Hart, who tried and failed to get past a sex scandal in his 1988 presidential campaign. So which is the exception, and which is the rule?

via The Spitzer Myth: Sex Scandals Are Not Political Poison – Molly Ball – The Atlantic.

Eliot Spitzer, hoping to upend an already unpredictable 2013 campaign season in New York City, announced plans Sunday to run for city comptroller — a brazen attempt to re-enter political life years after he resigned the governor’s office amid a prostitution scandal.

Spitzer announced his intentions in an interview with The New York Times. His decision comes just six weeks after Anthony Weiner, who also fell from grace amid scandal, declared his candidacy for mayor to replace outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

FLASHBACK: Spitzer: ‘An egregious violation of trust’

“I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it,” he told the paper by telephone. He did not respond to a POLITICO email seeking comment.

Spitzer has been itching to get back into office since shortly after he resigned. A number of his closest supporters believed he stepped down too soon — he left almost immediately after the Times broke the story about his prostitution use — and he has been eyeing various routes back into office.

via Eliot Spitzer launches political comeback – Maggie Haberman – POLITICO.com.

Eliot Spitzer’s attempt to return to public life — with a perilously late entrance into the race for New York City comptroller — was being compared to Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign about 20 times a minute on Twitter, last I checked.

But Spitzer has basically nothing in common with Weiner, aside from their low body fat and shared (and lightly observed) Jewish faith. Weiner is a talented politician who left Congress with no major legislative accomplishments and everything to prove. Spitzer was a major force in American public life for eight years despite having no particular talent for politics. Weiner’s online romances brought him down because they were weird. Spitzer’s ordinary sin — any number of politicians have survived prostitution scandals — ended his tenure as governor because his governorship was already going terribly.

The question about Weiner is whether, as mayor, he will be able to turn his talent for communications into leadership, something he’s never done — but the sort of thing that can happen when you’re mayor, as it did to Ed Koch.

The question for Spitzer is whose head he will take off first.

Spitzer was, as New York State attorney general, a terrifying and fascinating figure. He had learned from his legendary former boss Robert Morgenthau that under-resourced public prosecutors can’t beat deep-pocketed law firms on a level playing field, and that where banks and wealthy defendants may have time and money on their side, prosecutors can use the press to erase at least the first advantage. He leaked shamelessly, even as he denied leaking, playing extremely high-stakes games with the stock prices of major corporations. He understood the power of fear and the innate conservatism of corporate executives, and persuaded much of New York City’s financial elite that he was actually out of his mind — an incredibly valuable perception in high-stakes negotiations.

via Eliot Spitzer Is Nothing Like Anthony Weiner.

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