My husband came home from work on Monday and remarked, "Well, another Democrat bit the dust!" When I told him I had no idea what he was talking about, he turned on his computer and showed me a video clip of our New York State Governor, Eliot Spitzer, tersely admitting,
I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family. I will report back to you in short order.
News networks were quick to fill in the details: the former state Attorney General, applauded for his "passionate pursuit of justice," the man Time magazine Time Magazine named “Crusader of the Year” in 2002, was involved in a prostitution scandal and under investigation by federal officials.
Obviously, this is a huge issue in the news. My morning paper detailed how local teachers were handling this "teachable moment." Since my high school Current Events class hadn't met since last Friday, I decided to see if the students brought up the subject themselves. The first boy in the room (it's an all male group) informed me that the Governor was scheduled to make a statement at 11:30 a.m. EDT, which is 20 minutes into our class. Out went the lesson plans; we talked about what had happened, put CNN live coverage up on the screen, and watched history unfold.
I asked the boys to write a reaction to either the entire situation or to the resignation statement itself. These are some of their responses:
- I think he should be prosecuted severely, especially if he used our taxes.
- Everyone makes mistakes, but he's the governor, he shouldn't act like that. He would be the first person to say it's wrong if just a citizen does it.
- I think it's very good that Spitzer is resigning. Being part of a prostitution ring is despicable. Being the governor of New York should hold him to higher standards. I do not think that you have to be perfect to be a politician, but you should be held to a general set of standards.
- I think that he should resign because you shouldn't be doing things like that when you are in office. I know that he is only human, but when you're representing something like a state, then I don't really think that it [this behavior] is really appropriate.
- I think that he was dumb to do what he did. He is a hypocrite; he was arresting people for prostitution rings and then goes and does it himself.
- I believe he shouldn't resign. He's human; we all make mistakes.
I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people's work. Over the course of my public life I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct.
When he took office a little over a year ago, Eliot Spitzer proclaimed
In a Spitzer administration, the road to responsive and responsible government will begin on Day One. It is a promise based not on false hopes or foolish pride, but on a simple notion of government that has been lost amid the bickering and partisanship of the last few years: the idea that if we work to give everyone the same opportunity — that if we ensure everyone plays by the rules — there is no limit to what we can achieve as a people.
Eliot Spitzer was elected Governor of the State of New York in November of 2006: what was expected of him was integrity and justice.
The end came, on March 12, 2008: what was expected of him was his resignation.
"New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer" by Red Carlisle