Mark Grimm


Spitzer, Weiner & The End of Shame

Shame can be a good thing. It can hold people accountable for the mistakes they make. At its best, it can lead to true contrition and a genuine desire to change behavior.

And then there’s Eliot Spitzer.

The former NY Governor and no-holes-barred prosecutor wants to make a comeback from the prosecution scandal that ended his governorship. He’s running for NY City Comptroller. Spitzer maintains we all have “urges” and his failing was he didn’t keep his in check.

Can’t say I’ve ever had an urge to be with a prostitute, have you?

Yet, Spitzer believes he should be leading us. His comeback has little to do with public service. It’s about ego and limelight. His race is a political calculation about just how low the voters’ standards are. “There is not a standard of purity that applies in public service,” he said. If there was, “we would have a very short list of individuals who could then serve.”

Spitzer no doubt made the late entry into the race because he saw how well Anthony Weiner was doing in the polls for mayor. Weiner is another sex oddball with a comeback story and big ego.

Their races are more about the electorate than they are about the men involved. Just where do the voters’ standards lie? Is this the end of shame? Or the beginning of a new standard.

Elections matter.

The writer, a one-time elected official, is a political and communication strategist and speaking coach.





Anthony Weiner’s Possible Comeback

The NY congressman who made national headlines for sending lewd photos of himself to strangers is considering a run for New York City mayor.

I can just see the bumper stickers now.

No doubt testing the waters, Anthony Weiner and his wife gave in-depth interviews that were the heart of a lengthy NY Times Magazine article.

As I stated on the Chuck and Kelly Show this morning, Weiner has a tough hill to climb, very tough, but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. New York voters have a high tolerance for misbehavior by their politicians. Weiner’s original offense, strange as it was, didn’t actually involve any sex and didn’t appear to break any laws or misuse taxpayer money. That puts him ahead of Spitzer, Rangel and the long list of crooked state legislators now in trouble. Weiner also has a $4.3 million war chest and another $1.5 awaiting him in matching funds.

Weiner’s polling confirms, as he puts it, “there’s a healthy number of people who will never get over it.” But he wants “to ask people to give him a second chance.” Second chances must be earned. Weiner has two principle challenges:

1- Convincing people he is truly contrite.
Contrition for ambition’s sake is not true contrition. His wife, Huma, must play a role here. She must convince voters she really believes her husband is sorry. Oprah, Barbara Walters, whatever. The public has to witness this exposition, from both of them, and judge for themselves.

2- Answering the Bizzarro factor. Is he fixed?
How can an ambitious congressman think sending lewd photos to strangers not cause him trouble? Is this man stable enough to run NY City? Weiner still hasn’t given a real answer to the question, “how could he do it?” He said, he “viewed it as so frivolous” and “it was just another way to feed this notion that I want to be liked and admired.” He’ll have to do better than that.

The Times article presents a theory this potential run, even if unsuccessful, might put the episode behind him to set up a future run. Perhaps. In the end, voters make choices based on what they think is best for them.

I don’t think Weiner would stand a chance in Kansas. But, then again, they don’t ban big sodas there.

The writer is a one-time elected official and small business owner who provides political consulting and crisis communication counsel. More here.