Thursday, March 13, 2008
A Milestone Revisited: Governor Spitzer versus Governor Sulzer
On October 24, 2007 Sam Roberts, in the New York Times, noted that Governor Eliot Spitzer had outlasted another New York Governor, Governor William Sulzer. Governor Sulzer was impeached on October 17, 1913, less than 10 months after he had assumed office. Governor Spitzer lasted less than 15 months, so he failed to break the Sulzer brevity record for progressive-liberal New York governors, but he is probably the first New York governor to resign in less than 18 months.
As Roberts notes, there are a few parallels between Governors Spitzer and Sulzer besides their last names' beginning and ending with the same letters and including the letter z. Like Spitzer, Sulzer fought with the leadership of New York's corrupt state government. Like Spitzer, Sulzer was accused of spying on political opponents.
According to Wikipedia, in Sulzer's case "Silent Charlie" Murphy, sachem of Tammany Hall, orchestrated Sulzer's impeachment. Tammany accused Sulzer of corruption because Sulzer had refused to accept Tammany's instructions on which political cronies to appoint.
In October, Roberts wrote in the Times:
"Nobody has been comparing Governor Spitzer with Governor Sulzer. But even some of the biggest fans of Governor Spitzer, say that like Governor Sulzer, he has gone out of his way to invite retaliation from people he does not like, but still needs, to accomplish the lofty goals that he advanced during his campaign."
These remarks were unfair in October. By then, I and others had been calling for Spitzer's resignation for some time. The Times was busily defending the wisdom of Spitzer's crackpot plan to provide drivers' licenses to illegal aliens. It took Spitzer's side in his battle with Joseph Bruno, who, though without as much power, is a bit like Silent Charlie. It omitted stories about accusations about Spitzer and emphasized stories that embarrassed Bruno. It did not question why a former prosecutor who had made a name for himself as a reformer and had claimed to be able to clean up Albany had done nothing to clean up Albany; had appointed a board member of one of the organizations he had investigated, the New York Stock Exchange, to the board of SUNY; and had been accused of using air transport for political purposes, the very accusation he had levied against Bruno.
Roberts does injustice to Governor Sulzer. Sulzer managed to get himself reelected to the New York State Assembly in November 1913, just a month after he had been removed as governor. He re-ran for governor in 1914. Although he wasn't elected, he took enough votes away from Democrat Martin H. Glynn to cause Republican Charles S. Whitman to win the gubernatorial race.
Unlike Sulzer, Spitzer, right under the nose of the New York Times for the past decade, has been an infantile, hypocritical fraud who attacked numerous businessmen, all of whom were more ethical than Spitzer was. He destroyed lives and reputations in his self-indulgent quest for power. He claimed to be a reformer but lacked knowledge of basic processes and politics necessary for reform. The New York Times championed an incompetent, depraved fool like Eliot Spitzer for more than a decade. This suggests continued dysfunction not only of New York, but of the nation's media.