Spitzer II: Son of Spitzer

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The more I watch the dynamics of the political prosecutor, the more I believe that attorneys general should ideally be individuals who labor out of the public eye in modest solitude, their ambitions and drive segregated from the basic duty of representing "The People" against would-be wrongdoers. Particularly in the face of what the financial press has dubbed a "worldwide backlash against capitalism" the dangers presented by cults of personality married with broad investigatory powers are significant. Are we so taken with charisma, be it dark or light, that we are doomed to endure these cyclical characters?
Apparently, no one, including the Wall Street Journal, has learned from the saga of Eliot Laurence Spitzer, his naked ambition, or his aggressive tactics in bringing low both the various financial institutions that became his favorite shoe pounding crusade, and political opponents like Joseph L. Bruno upon which he unleashed various state police surveillance teams. That "fast-and-loose" became Spitzer's calling card, along with the adroit ease with which he manipulated the press and the public, should have been alarm bells aplenty, hinting urgently at the deep, throbbing vein of hypocrisy and duplicity you just sort of knew (but likely could not articulate) lurked beneath the contours of Spitzer. That he even revealed his fatal flaw at all is more a function of some ingrained pathology of self-destruction, than the realization any kind of inevitability. No one who pointed to questionable behavior in Spitzer could do so credibly. He was, most likely, already investigating them. Yet, he was beyond careless- hung by his own tactics, the wiretap, the money trace and the threat of public exposure. But how many public officials are simply better at concealing their ethical malignancies?
And so, what are we to make of his successor, Andrew Cuomo? Well, certainly the Wall Street Journal has de facto dubbed him the new Spitzer in the growing investigation of Auction Rate Securities. This is ironic given the history of mild animosity between the two. Indeed, the Journal takes pains to paint Cuomo's investigation as an industry-wide one, though Cuomo himself has been happy to egg along that particular interpretation. Whatever one's view on the investigation, and personally I think the behavior of various parties in the Auction Rate business are, in equal measure, poor business sense and mild ethical lapses- the former being anything but criminal and the later being potentially criminal, it is difficult not to wonder if Cuomo too will draw the gravity-bound character arc that begins with the iconic smiling Wall Street Journal hedcut and ends with a flashbulb-whitewashed behind-the-podium portrait on page six.
Auction Rate Debt Market Faces Probe [WSJ]

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