Note: Originally published April 2009.
What has become of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer? In the weeks since his forced resignation following revelations he had been routinely hiring prostitutes, Mr. Spitzer has largely disappeared from the headlines. The media—not so much out of goodwill as out of the insatiable needs of the news cycle—is apparently leaving the Spitzer family alone. That’s a good thing. However, after receiving an unmarked package containing a crystal ball, MRC executive director, Rob Okun offers a glimpse of Spitzer’s life as of Mother’s Day 2009.
ALBANY, N.Y. — At a Mother’s Day press conference in the rotunda of the state capitol, with his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, by his side, the humbled fiery anti-crime crusader and ex-governor Eliot Spitzer addressed a throng of reporters, legislators, and well-wishers, while a band of protesters stood by. Standing at a podium, Mr. Spitzer gave an update of his activities since his resignation as governor of New York on March 16, 2008.
“A year ago I stood before you and offered an apology for my actions, first to my family, and then to the public which had given me its trust. I announced at the time that after a period of atonement I would devote myself to ‘the common good’. ‘From those to whom much is given, much is expected,’ I said then. ‘I have been given much: the love of my family, the faith and trust of the people of New York, and the chance to lead this state. I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. 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. I can and will ask no less of myself’. When I ended my remarks that day, I pledged to return to public service outside the political realm.
“In the past year, I have done much soul searching trying to understand what was behind my actions. I have been conducting a rigorous inner investigation. I want to share some of what I’ve learned and announce some of my plans. The New York Times got something right when they described me as ‘a proud man humbled’, one who had ‘made a final nod to the enduring American belief in the possibility of redemption’. I remarked then that ‘As human beings our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall’. That’s still true.
“It is in that spirit that I wish to share with you some of the key activities I have been engaged in over the last 14 months: I am engaged in ongoing individual psychotherapy to understand my motivations, my actions, and their consequences; I have attended weekend retreats designed by, staffed by, and attended by other men motivated to look at behavior patterns that have negatively impacted our lives; I have joined, and actively participate in, a weekly men’s support group where each man speaks freely about what is happening in his life; I have been doing family therapy with my wife and daughters to help heal the wounds I inflicted on our family.
“I intend to continue all of these activities into the foreseeable future. I have also been engaged in a rigorous course of study to educate myself about the raging epidemic of sex trafficking that is plaguing many regions of the world. Early on in my process of atonement with my family, I came to an uncomfortable conclusion: that there is a direct connection between young girls being spirited away from their villages in Asia and forced into prostitution in big cities on that continent and elsewhere, and the prostitutes whose services I sought here in the United States. Whatever rationalization I might have made a year ago to deny that connection, I see as folly and arrogance today.
“Once I made that connection, the choice before me became clear. I must act. Accordingly, I am announcing today that I intend to work to dismantle this demeaning, exploitative system that brutalizes girls and women, destroys families, enriches a powerful crime syndicate, and teaches boys and men that girls and women’s major purpose in life is to provide males with sexual gratification.
“For the sake of my daughters—and yours—and for the daughters of generations to come, I pledge to turn my personal failure into a success for society. I will report on my efforts next year at this time. I invite you to join me in this effort now and in the days ahead. Thank you.”