The latest comeback kid


One thing’s for sure about America’s politics: we are quick to condemn. Just ask Bill Clinton, David Vitter, Mark Sanford and Anthony Weiner. But we’re also quick to forgive. Just ask Bill Clinton, David Vitter, Mark Sanford and Anthony Weiner.

Politically speaking, we are indeed the “Land of Second Chances.” Americans love a comeback kid. We’ve already proven that many times, and we’re about to prove it again, as former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer attempts to return to public life as New York City comptroller.

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Not so long ago, Spitzer’s political resurrection looked dubious at best. On April 28, 2012, four years after his resignation in disgrace, when both of us were newly minted hosts on Current TV, I accompanied Spitzer to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Because traffic was so snarled on Connecticut Avenue, we hopped out of our car to walk the last block to the Hilton. As soon as they spotted him, the crowd on the street started chanting: “Client Number Nine, Client Number Nine!” — a reference to Spitzer’s escort service code name.

No doubt, questions about his personal mistakes will continue to haunt him during this new campaign. Indeed, they already are. Monday’s New York Post put his photo on the cover with the headline: “Here We Ho Again.” The Daily Caller wondered if, perhaps, Spitzer had a bad case of “Weiner envy.” But Spitzer believes voters will look beyond his personal transgressions to what he accomplished while in public office. As he told me on Current TV Monday morning: “Politics is a contact sport. I made significant errors, I stood up, accepted responsibility, resigned. It’s now been five years. I hope the public will extend its forgiveness to me. I will ask for it. I will say to the public: Look at what my record was as attorney general and governor.”

On that score, New Yorkers should not only vote for Spitzer to return to public office, they should beg him to. Nobody has a better record of fighting white-collar crime. As Manhattan assistant district attorney, he’s credited with launching the investigation that ended the Gambino family’s control over Manhattan’s garment and trucking industries. As New York attorney general, he was the bane of Wall Street, waging relentless war on securities fraud, computer chip price fixing, investment bank stock price inflation, predatory lending practices and fraud at AIG, among other targets. Had Spitzer been Obama’s attorney general, there’s no doubt that several former Wall Street CEOs would today be behind bars. 

Many people have never heard of the position of city comptroller. But Spitzer told me he has big plans for the job, using the powers of that office to shape the city budget, fight for better corporate governance and exercise tough oversight over city departments. 

Ain’t politics fun? By the end of the year, New Yorkers might boast Mayor Anthony Weiner and Comptroller Eliot Spitzer, both great politicians who both remind us that we’re all human and we all make mistakes.

Press is host of “The Full-Court Press” on Current TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.