. . . Tuesday March 11, 2008

Three Lessons From the Spitzer Debacle

Here are three lessons from the Eliot Spitzer scandal:

1. Almost every time we see someone in public life adamantly talking down and/or aggressively going after some group or groups, that someone turns out to be into the behavior or types of behavior against which they crusade. The amazing thing is that we still feign shock.

2. Spitzer’s career is over. This is not Bill Clinton saying Ok, Ok, so I fucked another one. This is guy whose career is built on loudly putting bad guys away (including those who deal in prostitution). Brand is everything in public life and this guy just went from being Santa Claus to the Heat Miser.

3. The common wisdom out there is that Spitzer’s fall is yet more evidence that no one who is good can remain so after a few years in politics. The game gets to them, and the ego, power, and narcissism that are the currency of public life ultimately and inevitably destroy everything we thought we could trust.

Here’s another angle. What if the truth is that politics draws in those with such weaknesses? What if Spitzer became a crusader against the bad guys specifically (if not necessarily consciously) to rise in the political ranks? Want to find people who are doing their jobs for the reasons you had hoped? Find the ones who stay in those jobs and don’t view higher office as a higher calling.

Concentration is important!