Kneale: Spitzer Should Crawl Back Under His Rock

Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced demagogue who resigned as New York governor after revealing himself to be the Hypocrite of Wall Street, has crawled out from under his Rock of Shame to try to reclaim his moral legitimacy and terrorize us anew.

Are we really gonna let him get away with this? Again!? 

Whatever happened to the justifiable stigma of shame: the obligation to shut up and disappear after your own odious behavior betrays your family and lets down your adoring fans and followers?

The One Time Sheriff of Wall Street 2

The sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing crusader against Wall Street “graft and corruption”—read: most anything that creates wealth—appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box Thursday morning (watch videos at left). Now, I know why we put this pedantic liar on air: People wanted to stare at the aftermath of a whorehopper scandal. It's good TV. The bigger question is: Why do we-the-people blithely let this guy rehab his image? Why would we want to read anything he has to say in a column for Slate?

Spitzer clearly reveled in his return to the bull$#@* pulpit, spewing highhanded venom about all the things that went wrong on Wall Street after he stopped hectoring the Masters of the Universe to change their evil ways.

See, if only Eliot Spitzer had been around, none of this would have happened, right?

Wrong, so wrong. It isn't Spitzer's proclivity for thousand-dollar trysts with a barely legal escort/singer that bugs me. Prostitution probably should be decriminalized, regulated and taxed, as should Internet gambling and marijuana smoking (as we discussed last night on CNBC Reports).

Instead, the offense here is that Spitzer has the temerity—and that we in the media give him the opportunity—to resurface and reclaim his preachy mantel. This, despite his past proclivity for using questionable legal tactics, getting dubious results and hogging the TV cameras to serve his real purpose: promoting himself.

As New York state’s attorney general, he had us believe he was above reproach. As he graced magazine covers as the self-proclaimed Sheriff of Wall Street, he prosecuted prostitution rings while consorting with prostitutes. He threatened Wall Street firms with criminal indictment unless they fired their CEOs and copped to civil charges—a clear violation of the canon of ethics. Afterward, he took campaign donations from defense lawyers who had just settled a big case with him.

Spitzer also had his agents investigate the private lives of the men he hoped to bring down. Hello, Mr. Kettle? And he ranted against decades-old practices on Wall Street as if he were born yesterday. He was “shocked!, shocked!” to learn that investment banks employed research analysts to tout the stocks the firm took public.

All of it had one purpose: Spitzer wanted to be governor. He cared more about grabbing headlines than imposing real reforms. His research-analyst settlement resulted in less stock coverage for investors, not more. And nothing this guy tried to do to Wall Street did anything to stop all the carnage that would come later.

And now, he’s baaaaaaack. What’s next—a financial advice column from imprisoned ponzi prince Bernard Madoff? It made me want to spit when Spitzer spoke on CNBC yesterday, decrying Wall Street and any regulator but himself. He preened like a peacock, puffing out his chest and ruffling his feathers.

Message to Mr. Spitzer: Go pluck yourself.

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