Eliot Spitzer, “umpire of capitalism”

Charles Krauthammer and others have noted that, unlike Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer shrewdly chose to seek a lesser office for his comeback than the one he held pre-scandal. But Spitzer also selected his “lesser office” shrewdly. The Comptroller of the City of New York job is an excellent fit for the self-described “f—ing steamroller,” and he has big plans for this post. My conservative cousin from New York explains:

The antics of the Democratic candidate for Mayor may prove to be an amusing sideshow compared to what is in store for New York should Eliot Spitzer become Comptroller. To Spitzer the office of Comptroller is not limited to its traditional function of managing pension funds and auditing municipal operations. Instead, Spitzer will function as a Lone Ranger going after anyone who gets in his way.

To Spitzer the time is “ripe for greater and more exciting use of the office’s jurisdiction.” Just what he has in mind is laid out in a series of ads that are truly frightening to anyone who believes in limited government.

The overall theme of his campaign is that Spitzer will function as a kind of municipal Lone Ranger bringing his brand of justice to a town unburdened by traditional notions of legal procedure. Spitzer told Stephen Colbert that he aims to be “umpire of capitalism.”

In one ad, Spitzer reintroduces himself as “an old friend” who has gone after evildoers – “if someone wanted to take advantage of you, then someone heard from him…loudly.” The main villains in the Spitzer worldview are Wall Street money men.

In his crusade against Wall Street, Spitzer goes way beyond the traditional liberal hobby horses of fair executive compensation and socially responsible investing. Rather like the hero in an old Western flick, Eliot is going to drive the bad guys out of town. His latest ad portrays a deserted Financial District cleansed of evil doers by the City’s new fighting Comptroller.

Jobs lost…disappearing tax revenue… not a concern of the self-styled Sheriff of Wall Street. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli soberly pointed out that “as we know when Wall Street slows, New York State and New York City budgets feel the impact and it’s a concern.” But hey, even though DiNapoli is a Democrat, in Spitzer world he’s just another green eyeshade accountant who doesn’t understand the more exciting powers of a Comptroller.

Spitzer’s sordid record in power as Governor and Attorney General — and I’m not even talking about cavorting with prostitutes — should make voters cringe. A few samples of a man whose reckless use of power knows no bounds:

As Attorney General, he launched failed criminal prosecutions of NYSE head Dick Grasso and AIG Chief Hank Greenberg. Spitzer thought Grasso’s salary was too high, maybe it was, but why is that a crime.

Spitzer bullied AIG into firing Hank Greenberg. Many observers say the loss of Greenberg’s managerial skills was a major factor in the company’s collapse. When former Goldman Sachs Chairman John Whitehead wrote a piece in The Wall Street Journal defending Greenberg, he received the following message from the Attorney General “I will be coming after you…you will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done.”

After his election as Governor, Spitzer treated GOP leaders as enemies who must be destroyed. He told State Assembly GOP leader James Tedisco “I’m a f—ing steamroller and I’ll roll over you.” Spitzer aides ordered the State Police to launch a criminal investigation of Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Spitzer’s ire is not limited to citizens of wealth and power. To gain headlines he’ll go after the little guys he purports to champion. Once, in a phony scandal about fixing horse races, Spitzer brought actions against a man who weighed jockeys right before post time. The successful defense against these charges left this innocent man financially ruined and unemployable.

For sheer demagoguery, Spitzer’s only serious rival among New York political figures is Al Sharpton.

More grim news: latest polls show Spitzer ahead of his primary rival Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer 48-36 among likely voters in the Wall Street-Journal-Marist poll, and 49-45 in the Quinnipiac poll. Stringer is a drab five & dime store liberal, but next to Spitzer he’s a powerhouse of common sense.

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