Election 2008


What Now for Eliot Spitzer?

December 31, 2007 02:09 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The New York Governor who rode into office a year ago on a record-breaking majority now faces comparable levels of disapproval. Spitzer’s allies in the press are hard to find.

30-Second Summary

In a cartoon in Vanity Fair’s first 2008 edition, the path of a steamroller-driving Spitzer is blocked by the erect figure of New York Senate Leader Joseph Bruno. The governor is cross-eyed with bewilderment beneath the banner “The Year of Governing Dangerously.”

The following article is a far cry from the Spitzer profile run in the same publication in 2005. “To the man on the street, he’s a hero” was Vanity Fair’s assessment then.

The problems began in July with Troopergate. It became known that Spitzer’s office had used state troopers to monitor Joseph Bruno. The attorney general's investigation concluded that there had been a serious breach of propriety, if not of the law.

In the fall, Spitzer's troubles continued with his announcement that New York State would issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. That declaration drew national criticism and created an awkward moment for Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.

Spitzer soon dropped that policy. The New York Times managed some faint praise, writing that his reversal “won the kind of wide acclaim from elected officials that he could not win for the proposal itself.” Most commentators were less kind.

Spitzer’s steep fall from grace has suggested comparisons with Bill Clinton’s difficult first year as president and popular New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s doldrums in the middle of his first term.

The big question is whether Spitzer’s current unpopularity is more a problem of personality than policy, and if it is, how great a change can be expected.

As Vanity Fair's David Margolick concludes, looking to the coming year, “A great drama will now play out in Albany.”

Headline Links: Assessing the past twelve months

Opinion: The driver’s license debate

Background: Spitzer’s difficult year

Spitzer backs down
The “steamroller”

Historical Context: First terms and past popularity

Clinton and Bloomberg’s difficult first terms
What the pundits used to say about Spitzer

Reference Material: A poll and Spitzer’s résumé


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