Service of Asking the Right Questions II: It’s not about forgiveness for Anthony Wiener and Eliot Spitzer
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
The media is asking the public if it can forgive Anthony Wiener and Eliot Spitzer who are running for NYC mayor and comptroller respectively. Both had been caught in kinky activity, the former on social media; the latter in a prostitution scandal.
What is the voter’s affair? The candidates’ judgment, behavior and approach to their prior work. As state Attorney General, which he was before being elected Governor, Spitzer landed unsympathetically and severely on perpetrators. His mean approach to the law was hardly forgiving—what he now wants from the public–especially against those in the prostitution business of which he was a beneficiary. This made him the poster child for the Bible quote: “Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone.” I’m for strict adherence to the law; hypocrisy not so much.
In today’s New York Post, columnist Michael Goodwin writes in “Sex pols’ sorry story”: “The issue is not how you spent your time out of office. The question is, how have you changed? How do we know you are not the same person who betrayed the public?”
Later in the column Goodwin continues: “Their final acts did not occur in a vacuum. For Spitzer and Weiner, their undoing was the culmination of years of reckless arrogance. Spitzer was so out of control that I predicted, after only eight months as governor, he would not finish his term. Six months later, he was gone.”
Moments after I heard a radio interview with Goodwin, a newscast on the same station ran the voice of a potential voter who had forgiven Spitzer for his sexual pursuits. The quote was illustrating the news that Spitzer was having trouble accumulating 3,750 signatures of registered Democrats that he needs to be on the ballot. His deadline is tomorrow night.
I discussed the topic with Martha Takayama who inspired the post in the first place. She said, “You have to pound on the idea that their morals are beside the point and that inconsistent application of crime and punishment rules are the issue.” The Boston-based gallery owner of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts, specializing in contemporary photography, is also passionate about politics. A frequent visitor to Manhattan where she has family, she pays more attention to what’s going on here than most locals. Takayama continued: “Spitzer’s case indicates a flaw–not a tragic one because he is not great. He thinks that he is above the law. That rules are not for him! He was a grown man when he manifested that behavior.”
The media should help a public, with memory the size of a punctuation mark, by asking the right questions and covering the work-history of the candidates. Goodwin was on the right track. While I don’t always agree with this columnist, we see eye-to-eye on this subject.
When you watch interviews with candidates, celebrities or others are there questions you’d wish the reporter or on-air host would ask or do they pretty much cover what you want to know? Is forgiveness what it’s about with candidates reemerging after a fall or is it more about belief in the potential for adults to change?