The Real Reason Spitzer Shouldn't Run Isn't Hookers, It's Psychosis

"I will be coming after you," Mr. Spitzer said. "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done."


Let's skip over Eliot Spitzer's hooker shenanigans for a moment. That's frankly the most palatable part of the man. By the end of his run, Spitzer had burned so many bridges that his entire party was happy to see the back of him.

Forget the hookers. Let's look at some of his highlights. Spitzer has serious anger problems, he comes from money and abuses power the way other politicians drink coffee. He does a good impersonation of a David Mamet character even on the best of days.

This was the same Eliot Spitzer who as Attorney General called John Whitehead after the former Goldman Sachs chairman published an article on this page defending former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg. "I will be coming after you," Mr. Spitzer said, according to Mr. Whitehead's account. "You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done."

Jack Welch, the former head of GE, said he was told to tell Ken Langone—embroiled in Mr. Spitzer's investigation of NYSE chief Richard Grasso—that the AG would "put a spike through Langone's heart."

Cheerful stuff. But Spitzer didn't confine his psychotic behavior to Wall Street. He was even worse as governor.

The report said that the governor’s staff ordered the State Police to keep special records of Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno’s whereabouts when he traveled with police escorts in New York City and to recreate records if they did not exist. The report said that the acting superintendent of police, Preston Felton, took an unprecedented role in assisting requests from the governor’s staff and the media for information related to the Senator’s whereabouts.

And the report concluded that there was an orchestrated campaign by the governor’s office to obtain and provide information to the news media, with the help of the State Police, to essentially discredit Mr. Bruno, the state’s top Republican.

The findings of the report were endorsed by Mr. Spitzer’s own Inspector General, Kristine Hamann.

Spitzer didn't get any better out of office.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer was reading his newspaper on a recent Thursday morning when he was jolted by a comment made by his successor, David A. Paterson.

Mr. Spitzer grew upset, according to a senior aide to Mr. Paterson and another official. He picked up the phone, reached a Paterson aide, demanded a public apology from the governor and “issued threats, veiled and unveiled” against Mr. Paterson, said the aide, who insisted on anonymity because he did not want to anger either man.

And that's when Spitzer was powerless except in terms of cash. He has a long history of behaving exactly like this.

Anger, as Spitzer explained it, was linked to the best, most optimistic side of him. It also marked him as different, part of the solution.

Not long after, he famously shouted at Republican minority leader James Tedisco, “I’m a fucking steamroller, and I’ll roll over you.”

Hope, change and rage. And here's Spitzer's senior adviser.

Next week, Mr. Constantine’s book, “Journal of the Plague Year,” lands in bookstores, the first insider account of the collapse of Mr. Spitzer’s governorship.

When Mr. Spitzer was New York’s attorney general, Mr. Constantine’s faith was such that “I was telling anyone who would listen that the American presidency was Eliot’s manifest destiny,” he writes.

He had such misgivings about Mr. Spitzer’s early broadsides against fellow Democrats that he nicknamed his old friend The Impostor. Even a bewildered Silda Spitzer, Mr. Constantine writes, asked him at the time, “Who is this guy?”