“I sympathize with him when he critiques the self-importance of the party leadership that thinks they can either anoint candidates or in this case force them out, which is fundamentally anti-democratic in most instances,” Mr. Spitzer said, adding, “He is speaking to the sense that those who believe they are more important than they really are should not dictate the terms of democracy, and his own political career speaks to that, so he may be saying the more you push me, the more I am going to say no.”
Mr. Spitzer, you surely recall, resigned after being pressured to do so for several days after he was ensnared in a prostitution ring. Then Republicans in Albany threatened to impeach him, and Rep. Peter King told a newspaper “He has to step down. No one will stand with him. I never try to take advantage or gloat over a personal tragedy. However, this is different. This is a guy who is so self-righteous, and so unforgiving.”
Mr. King’s point was one bandied about a lot in political circles in those days–that Mr. Spitzer’s crusading style meant he had no friends who could have rallied to his side in such a moment.
Or, as John Heileman noted at the time in comparing Mr. Spitzer’s fate to that of Bill Clinton:
Despite some wavering at the start, Clinton ultimately came to count most congressional Democrats as his allies in his battle with Ken Starr. (Joe Lieberman being the most famous exception.) Little of this had to do with loyalty; it was a matter of self-interest, of the party seeing its fortunes as tied to that of its titular head. But Spitzer was even less popular among Democrats in Albany than he was among his constituents. The party disliked him personally and believed, perhaps correctly, that its long-term outlook was better served by his removal.
Another New York story after Mr. Spitzer’s scandal became clear details how he considered hanging on for a while:
The aide is less than charitable in describing Mrs. Spitzer’s initial reaction. “Silda probably thinks, ‘I could have just been a rich Park Avenue wife, or a big lawyer. Instead, I gave ten years of my life to this political bullshit, so you’re not going to just walk away.’ It was likely a combination of that and being completely delusional: ‘I’m married to the governor of New York, and he’s the greatest thing that ever happened to this state.’ She really wanted him to fight it out.”
Democrats–albeit mostly off the record–also joined in the call for Mr. Spitzer to resign after the scandal was revealed, but for several days he resisted them.
Still, when Mr. Spitzer spoke to Mr. Smith, if you substitute the word “Democrat” for “Republican” it is not hard to imagine he is talking about himself : “In terms of his own perspective on politics he is neither beholden to a Republican leadership, or perhaps I could further say he is disdainful of them.”
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