Monday, August 12, 2013

Eliot Spitzer Debates Scott Stringer in the Race for New York City Comptroller –

Who Cares?  - We Do, For the Entertainment Value

In normal times the race for the Comptroller of New York City is not just a race that the rest of the nation is totally and completely oblivious too, it is a race that the citizens and voters of New York City are totally and completely oblivious to.  This is not election apathy, it is downright disinterest.  But this year things are different.

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is running for the office, Mr. Spitzer being a former Governor because he did a bunch of naughty personal things.  His opponent is a gentleman named Scott Stringer, and no one knew or knows who he is, except that he would be elected for sure if he just won the Democratic primary. 

So why care about the race?  Well it could be that if Mr. Spitzer is elected he will use the office to go after Wall Street bad guys and improve corporate governance, something sorely lacking in the Obama administration.  But another reason to care about the race is its entertainment value, as illustrated by the highlights (?) of the first debate between these two gentlemen (?). 

For example there was this clever comment by Mr. Stringer who said he would not talk about the prostitution scandal surrounding Mr. Spitzer, and then did just that.

“Right now there’s two tiers of justice in this city,” said Mr. Stringer, who is the Manhattan borough president. “There’s one for the rich and powerful, and there’s one for the rest of us. The truth of the matter is Eliot Spitzer represents the tier where he can escape prostitution — uh, prosecution.”

Part of the debate turned on whether or not the Comptroller should be a shepherd.

In response to a question about whether the comptroller should be the “sheriff” or “cheerleader” of Wall Street, Mr. Stringer said that the comptroller should be “the steward, a responsible manager of our pension system.”

When it was his turn to speak, Mr. Spitzer said that the comptroller needed to be more than a “shepherd.”

“Steward,” Mr. Stringer interrupted, wagging his index finger.

And this give and take gave nothing to the voters, it just took away from the occasion.

“Scott, I guess the simple question I would ask is, where were you?” he said, listing the investigations of Wall Street institutions that he conducted as attorney general in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

“I credit you for the past but you’ve been on the sidelines for five years,” Mr. Stringer replied, adding, “Maybe you should go run for attorney general and lose to Eric Schneiderman.”

Later, Mr. Spitzer spoke dismissively of Mr. Stringer’s 20 years in office, asking,"What indelible mark have you left on policy?”

Mr. Stringer shot back that Mr. Spitzer had been “a colossal failure as governor.”

Mr. Spitzer is the favorite here, in part because a candidate for the mayoral nomination, Anthony Weiner has a much more bizarre scandal surrounding him, and that is not only taking attention away from Mr. Spitzer’s transgressions, it is also casting Mr. Spitzer in a relatively betting shining light. 

So after the September primary the only question will be, is there a Republican in the race, and if so who is he or she? 

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