Friday, November 30, 2007

Dissecting Spitzer

In the January issue of Vanity Fair, David Margolick has a look at the temperamental New York Governor Eliot Spitzer.

It's not pretty.
In late January, Jim Tedisco, a Republican and the minority leader of the State Assembly, was driving to Albany on the Governor Thomas E. Dewey New York State Thruway—named for the last crime buster before Spitzer to catapult himself to the capital—when his cell phone rang. It was the governor, asking him to attend a press conference announcing ethics-reform legislation. Tedisco resisted; he’d just been excluded from some key meetings, and feared he’d merely be a prop. (Spitzer recalls it was Tedisco, dissatisfied with his treatment by the governor, who initiated the discussion.) That was when he got what’s now known around Albany as the “Full Spitzer,” or at least the electronic version, minus the bulging veins and spluttering that eyewitnesses get to see.

Spitzer’s voice suddenly changed, Tedisco recalls: it became louder, shriller, more guttural, more menacing. In three weeks he’d done more for New York State than any governor in history, Spitzer screamed. He was having enough trouble with the other goddamned legislative leaders, he went on; Tedisco would do what he was told—or he’d be crushed. As if the point weren’t sufficiently clear, Spitzer put it another way, courtesy of James Taylor. “Listen,” he shrieked, “I’m a fucking steamroller, and I’ll roll over you and anybody else.”

I was thinking to myself, My God, is this really the governor?” Tedisco recalls. “To tell you the truth, I almost drove off the thruway It’s almost like an addiction he has to be confrontational,” Tedisco goes on. “The only way to help him is to buy a Dale Carnegie course for better communication skills, or 10 counseling lessons on temper control.” And it was all such a pity, given the high expectations for the man. “He had everything going for him,” Tedisco says. “He’s the one guy who could have turned this whole thing around.”

For all his bravado and bluster, the steamroller seems to be rather image-conscious, more concerned with his press clippings than he is with containing his sputtering rage.
“He wants to do a good job,” says Hank Sheinkopf, a New York political consultant who worked on Spitzer’s first two campaigns. “But ultimately what he really gives a shit about is whether Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and The New York Times love him, because, in the back of his brain, if they don’t love him, he’s nobody.”
It's a long piece, and a most interesting look at a pathetically insecure, power-hungry man.

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