Before he was destroyed by a hooker scandal, Eliot Spitzer was a very good attorney general of New York—one of the few powerful officials actually concerned with reining in Wall Street prior to the financial crisis. Guess what... his politics are still good.
It is an actual shame that Eliot Spitzer may never return to elected office because—next to the NYC tabloids (and Gawker)—no one benefited from his downfall more than Wall Street, which lost its most powerful New York foe right when he might have been able to do something to at least somewhat rein in the insane greedy risky behavior that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. Spitzer is a born rich boy, and he understands how the finance world really works, and unlike most people with that pedigree and that knowledge, he actually tried to prosecute some of those fuckers. Too bad.
Anyhow, he’s just doing real estate shit now (not that that stops the tabloids from continuing to stalk him). But he gave a two-part interview to Pro Market this week that just reminds us of the fact that one of the substantively best Democratic politicians of the past dozen years is now permanently unelectable.
What we need to think about is some form of strict liability for CEOs who oversee companies involved in structural fraud. Then, somebody will say, “How can you say to a CEO who didn’t actually know that something was going on, that he should lose his job or her job because stuff is going on inside the company?”
The answer is we need to create an incentive system that links CEO behavior to the behavior of the employees in the company. We haven’t seen that. I’ve said, at the time of the crisis in ’08, it would have been not only appropriate but, I think, smart, for the Justice Department to say, “We’re bailing you out”—which I thought was necessary, you couldn’t let the system collapse—“but the CEOs of these multiple companies are going to lose [their] jobs and everybody from X level up is going to have bonuses clawed back.” All of that should have been a prerequisite to the grant of the bailouts.
In terms of money, Hillary spent more than Donald Trump by a ratio of two-to-one. You can’t blame that election loss on money. It was [the] message. The right message, obviously, would have beaten Donald Trump. The wrong message didn’t beat him. I think we take the easy way out when we blame the money that was let loose by Citizens United as being the sole causative factor...
One small example—perhaps not so small—was the Goldman Sachs speeches, which I think were symptomatic of a larger skepticism that the public had about her loyalty to some of the core beliefs that she claimed to hold.
It wasn’t just, “OK, a politician gave a speech and got paid for it.” It was the secrecy of those speeches that became metaphorical for the public’s view, or enough of the public’s belief, that there was a lack of consistency between her articulated views and how she would govern.
Spitzer’s politics are great and all but of course America has no appetite for electing someone whose personal life has been written about for years in the New York tabloids.