What makes Eliot Spitzer less qualified as a legitimate commentator on current events: his shameful exit from the New York governorship, or his sorry performance as governor?
In a column today, Kenneth Lovett, Albany Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News, argues for the latter. Spitzer, the headline states, "should not be advising America." The former governor is co-host, with Kathleen Parker, of the new CNN prime time show "Parker Spitzer", which premieres tonight.
While Spitzer is clearly not a model of personal integrity, Lovett insisted that the man was a complete political failure to boot. He rattled off a long list (for the short period of time in question) of political misdeeds by the former governor, ending the column with a scathing quote from a Democratic political consultant: "The fact this guy now is going to tell America how to function after what he did to New York is a disgrace."
Howard Kurtz noted in his Washington Post preview of Parker Spitzer the enormous hurdles before the former governor as he seeks - with CNN's help - to rehabilitate his image. Writes Kurtz:
Spitzer faces a huge hurdle: He must somehow persuade those tuning in to put aside the image of a prostitute-patronizing politician who humiliated his family and view him instead as a thoughtful and engaging personality. The images from the scandal that drove him from Albany -- Ashley Dupre, his designation as Client 9, his pain-stricken wife Silda standing beside him -- are draped around him like a ragged old coat.
But Lovett is less concerned with Spitzer's penchant for ladies of the night than with his sorry record as governor, and the many blunders that plagued Spitzer's short run in Albany.
It was Spitzer who selected scandal-plagued governor-in-waiting David Paterson as his lieutenant without a proper vetting.
It was Spitzer who sought to hike New York's already out-of-control spending by more than 6% his first year and 5% his second, setting the stage for an even worse fiscal calamity for the state.
It was Spitzer who early in his term settled for quick headlines over substantive change by agreeing to watered-down versions of budget reform and ethics legislation that did nothing to improve the broken budget process or dysfunctional state government.
It was Spitzer who pushed campaign finance reform as a top priority even while offering special access to those who raised up to $1 million for his campaign coffers.
The list goes on...and on. Click through to Lovett's column to see a more complete list of his political transgressions.
In short, if Spitzer's immense personal baggage is not enough to disqualify as a legitimate commentator, his immense political failures do. That, at least, seems to be Lovett's argument.
Spitzer's personal failings have been rehashed ad infinitum since news broke that he would host a prime time show - with some help from CNN's on-air staff. And while mistakes in his personal life do have a bearing on his fitness as a positive public figure, his professional political record probably speaks more to his ability to comment on current events.
The man was a failure of a politician, Lovett noted, so why would CNN hire him to talk about politics?