On the Halloween edition of NPR’s Diane Rehm show, broadcast live from the Newseum in downtown Washington, left-wing writer David Corn elicited a mild shock from the crowd when he suggested if you "take away the sex," disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer would be a perfect overseer of the grand government bailout. (It's about 27 minutes into the show.)
Just such a rehabilitation from Spitzer’s use of high-priced prostitutes was offered by the Outlook section of The Washington Post on Sunday. Splashed across the opinion section’s front page was a big picture of Spitzer and and a Spitzer op-ed carrying the headline "How to Ground the Street: The Former ‘Enforcer’ On The Best Way to Keep the Markets in Check." Spitzer quickly went to work blaming Team Bush for the bailout:
When my office, along with the Department of Justice, warned that some of American International Group's reinsurance transactions were little more than efforts to create the false impression of extra capital on the company's balance sheet, we were jeered at for attacking one of the nation's great insurance companies, which surely knew how to balance risk and reward.
And when the attorneys general of all 50 states sought to investigate subprime lending, believing that some lending practices might be toxic, we were blocked by a coalition of the major banks and the Bush administration, which invoked a rarely used statute to preempt the states' ability to probe. The administration claimed that it had the situation under control and that our inquiry was unnecessary.
Time and again, whether at the state level, in Congress or at the Securities and Exchange Commission under Bill Donaldson, those who tried to enforce the basic principles that would allow the market to survive were told that the "invisible hand" of the market and self-regulation could handle the task alone.
Spitzer arrogantly proclaimed that the talent in the business sector in no way matches geniuses like Spitzer in the public sector:
No longer can Garrison Keillor's brilliant observation about our kids -- that they are all above average -- apply to CEOs and propel failed leaders' paychecks through the roof.
He proclaimed the classic liberal desire to put the federal regulators into every nook and cranny of corporate malfeasance:
Let's leave aside the ideological hesitancy that has long hamstrung regulatory agencies. Today's balkanized regulatory framework for financial services no longer matches in any way the needs of a fully integrated global financial system. The divisions of the past -- commercial banking vs. investment banking vs. insurance vs. hedge funds vs. private equity -- have become distinctions without a difference. But these old boxes and formalities still determine how entities are viewed and regulated. It should surprise nobody that capital found the crevices in the regulatory framework. That is what capital is paid to do. But we failed to respond with a regulatory framework flexible enough to plug the leaks.
The only reference to Spitzer's embarrassment of his wife and daughters came at the very end:
Although mistakes I made in my private life now prevent me from participating in these issues as I have in the past, I very much hope and expect that President Obama and his new administration will have the strength and wisdom to do again what FDR did.