There will always be candidates for public office who are ethically compromised, temperamentally unsuitable and politically incompetent, but if they insist on running anyway, who has the right to tell them not to? Campaigns sort out the good public servants from the bad.
hat said, Eliot Spitzer’s bid to recycle himself by running for New York City comptroller is unnerving on many levels, and not just because he has suddenly decided to undo the buckles of self-restraint that used to keep disgraced ex-politicians (for soliciting prostitutes, in his case) from re-entering the public sphere. Beyond that, there are Mr. Spitzer’s colossal failures in what he did and didn’t do as governor of New York.
This was the man who built a solid record and shiny reputation as a hard-charging attorney general, then squandered it in 14 months in the governor’s office. He had whipped Wall Street and was going to fix Albany, but left it more broken than when he got there.
When he quit — and who can forget how Mr. Spitzer’s stricken wife stood beside him as he announced that it was all over? — he betrayed not just the voters, but the staff members, agency leaders and employees who had followed him to Albany, or moved over from the attorney general’s office, with the goal of healing the Capitol’s sick culture. They were his team, bursting with all the idealism and commitment that he professed to have, promising to make the Spitzer administration a model of integrity and effectiveness.