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What Eliot Spitzer and Carl Paladino Really Have in Common

Oy.

You gotta love NY politics.

A new poll out says that New Yorkers wish Eliot Spitzer was still their governor. Yep, that Eliot Spitzer — the same Eliot Spitzer who was forced to resign as governor because of a prostitution scandal that played out daily in the tabs and on TV.

A new Public Policy Polling surveyreveals that New Yorkers want Spitzer or the "Lov Guv" as he's been dubbed by the tabs, back as their Governor.

The disgraced ex-gov is currently co-hosting a nightly talk show on CNN. His debut on "Parker Spitzer” hasn't exactly been a ratings hit and it's been savaged by reviewers. But the Wall Street Journalreports CNN's willing to give him and the show some time in hopes of building an audience and giving the producers a chance to fine tune the show's tone and format.

Hosting a cable show is not what the man who was known as "the Sheriff of Wall Street" had planned. Spitzer was once a possible presidential contender but revelations of his affair with a prostitute shattered those plans.

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer by author Peter Elkind offers an in-depth look at the rise and humiliating disgrace of Eliot Spitzer.

What follows is a Guest Author Blog by Elkind who provides us an unique look at NY politics, the politicians and those who make up their world.

WHAT SPITZER AND PALADINO HAVE IN COMMON

Guest Author Blog by Peter Elkind, author of Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

Guest Author Blog
Guest Author Blog

Eliot Spitzer and Carl Paladino, liberal Manhattan Democrat and upstate Tea Party Republican, don’t have a lot in common.

But they’re both rich. They’ve both endured sex scandals. They’ve both run for governor of New York. And they share a visceral dislike for two powerful men in Empire State politics: Andrew Cuomo, Paladino’s Democratic opponent in the November gubernatorial election, and Fred Dicker, political columnist for The New York Post.

Spitzer’s hatred of Cuomo has deep roots, which I describe in Client 9. And it’s made a few headlines in the current governor’s race: first, when Spitzer equivocated on the question of whether he’d vote for his fellow Democrat (he eventually said he would); and later, when he pointedly told a CNN interviewer: “the problem that Andrew has is that everybody knows that behind the scenes, he is the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there.” In that same interview, Spitzer even offered a backhanded defense of Paladino (once a donor to his campaigns), calling the Republican nominee “not as crazy as the media has portrayed him to be.” Paladino returned the favor, telling the Los Angeles Times days later that after Spitzer’s involvement with prostitutes was publicly exposed in March 2008, he called the embattled governor—who he viewed as a capable public official—and urged him not to resign.

"The two men clearly share the painful experience of having publicly demonstrated the universality of moral imperfection." -Author, Client 9, Peter Elkind

In an email to me last week, Spitzer denied Paladino’s account. “He never called me, as least as far as I know,” Spitzer wrote. “I surely didn’t speak to him.” But there’s clearly something going on here. My view? The two men clearly share the painful experience of having publicly demonstrated the universality of moral imperfection (in Paladino’s case, his campaign disclosure that he had a 10-year-old daughter that he’d fathered with a mistress). It’s also hard to escape the thought that they are evidence of the ancient Chinese proverb: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

So it is with Dicker.

During their angry toe-to-toe confrontation—after Dicker challenged Paladino to back up his public claim that Cuomo had engaged in extramarital affairs during his marriage to Kerry Kennedy—the Republican raged that Dicker was acting as Cuomo’s “stalking horse….his bird dog.”

Paladino was reacting to a pattern in Dicker’s journalistic history that had also driven Spitzer crazy (at least when it turned against him): He falls in love with a politician, viewing him as the state’s savior—until after his election. In Dicker’s eyes (and in his columns), Spitzer could do no wrong—before he took office and could do nothing right. And, as Paladino sees it, it’s happening again with Cuomo, who has clearly been Dicker’s political darling. It won’t last forever, of course—if Cuomo wins, Dicker will drive him crazy too. But for now, Paladino—who’s generated plenty of bad press on his own—is unhappily on the wrong end of Dicker’s affections.

On the next page is an excerpt from Client 9 on Frederic Dicker the man known as "FUD."

Excerpt: WHAT MAKES DICKER SO FEARED




Increasingly, the preferred vehicle for attacks on the governor was a single Albany journalist: Frederic Uberall Dicker of the New York Post, sometimes known as “FUD.” Within the capital press corps, the sixty-three-year-old Dicker wasn’t the fairest of the most enterprising or even the most accurate reporter around. But he was surely the most influential.

Dicker was a crusty veteran of nearly thirty years in Albany, a self-described “equal-opportunity prick.” His column, published every Monday, invariably relied on anonymous sources and the breathless tone of tabloid scandal. It was usually one-sided, bereft of anything resembling perspective, and frequently did someone’s dirty work. A reformed socialist who wore a beret and drove a Porsche, Dicker didn’t hesitate to bully bureaucrats in his self-anointed role as advocate for the little guy. When a state police flack didn’t respond to his queries rapidly enough, Dicker warned that if he continued “to duck and dodge,” his “pattern of behavior as a ‘public information officer’ will be the subject of a future article in the New York Post.”

"When the love affair reached its inevitable end, he wouldn’t just break your heart—he’d tear it out and eat it." -Author, Client 9, Peter Elkind

What made Dicker so powerful was how his voice was amplified: by his paper’s screaming headlines; by his role as host of an Albany radio show (broadcast from his statehouse office) and a local TV commentator; and by his influence over the rest of the press corps, which inevitably echoed his scoops in more muted tones. What made Dicker so feared was that he was venemously fickle. He abruptly turned on his heroes, unfairly tearing them down after unfairly building them up. Romancing Dicker was dangerous. When the love affair reached its inevitable end, he wouldn’t just break your heart—he’d tear it out and eat it.

Reprinted from Client 9 by Peter Elkind by arrangement with Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c)

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks