Monday, November 17, 2008

File under: You've got to be kidding

In a not nearly tongue-in-cheek enough post, Steve Benen suggests Eliot Spitzer as a possible SEC chair:

Yes, he hired a call girl, but so did Sen. David Vitter (La.), and he's still a sitting Republican senator in good standing, who apparently plans to seek re-election. Yes, he committed adultery, but so did Newt Gingrich (thinking about running for president), Rudy Giuliani (thinking about running for governor), and John McCain (the most recent Republican presidential nominee). Do we
have to exclude Spitzer from addressing the issues on which he has considerable expertise?

Yes. Yes, we do. Not so much because of his exploits as Client #9, although there's enough pragmatist in me to think it should at least be taken into consideration.

The better reason not to trust Eliot Spitzer with an incredibly important and (at least until this crisis subsides) high profile position is his use of the NY State Police to dig up dirt on Joe Bruno, the Republican leader in the state legislature. That was very bad. It was enough to make me not like Eliot Spitzer anymore, which made things a lot easier when he did something that was less germane to his job performance but vastly more damaging to his career. It wasn't quite like, say, Karl Rove's successful efforts to get Don Siegelman jailed on bogus charges, but it was still a flagrant abuse of power and a perversion of the criminal justice system.

Also, despite his "expertise" in financial regulation, his actual track record in terms of prosecutions is extremely poor. At the time I was annoyed by (overwhelmingly right-wing) critics who said he was just doing it for the glory of perp walks and press conferences, but none of the high-profile Wall Street cases he brought actually resulted in prosecutions, which would have made it a lot easier to defend him from those accusations.

There are plenty of qualified, reform-minded Democrats who could serve as SEC Chair, and all of them would be better choices than Eliot Spitzer.

h/t Noam at Eschaton

No comments: