The editorial boards of the New York Times and the New York Post have found some rare common ground by endorsing Scott Stringer for comptroller. While neither paper seems terribly enthusiastic about the Manhattan borough president, they are both clear about their dislike of the former governor. And with Spitzer leading by nineteen points in the latest poll, Stringer will have to take what he can get.
The first line of the Times endorsement boldly asserts that Stringer “would make a fine New York City comptroller.” Sure, he’s not “a flashy candidate,” but “in this turbulent election season, we don’t need another celebrity office seeker.” (Too late, guys.) The 358-word piece praises him twice for being “effective.” Meanwhile, Stringer’s celebrity opponent “has intellect and cunning, but he lacks the qualities critical for this job. Mr. Spitzer entered the race at the last minute, seemingly for no reason except to thrust himself back into the limelight and to offer his services again as sheriff of Wall Street.” And while the Times acknowledges that much of the public might like to Spitzer back in his old star-shaped badge and cowboy hat, the paper insists, “That logic falters when you factor in his term as governor, a dismal performance that ended abruptly when he resigned in a prostitution scandal.”
The Post, which of course ran a socks-themed front page to accompany its Stringer endorsement/anti-Spitzer screed, picks up where the more uptight Times left off: “Spitzer’s goals in office have always been less about serving the people’s interest and more about feeding his insatiable ego, his giant ambitions and his basest appetites…We would not trust Eliot Spitzer to manage our 401(k), much less take our teenage daughter to the movies — so why should the city trust him with its entire pension fund?” The paper also trots out Anthony Weiner, lest anyone forget that Spitzer also had a sex scandal: “Weiner’s weird psychosexual thrill from public humiliation seems honest in comparison to Spitzer, whose version of ‘contrition’ gives off a distinctly Charlie Sheen vibe.” (Points for arguing that Spitzer’s scandal was crazier than Weiner’s, if only because everyone always says the opposite.) The piece goes on to remind readers of the details of Spitzer’s hooker patronage, slams him for “running an Occupy Wall Street-themed campaign possible only because of daddy’s millions,” and some other things.
Though the Post acknowledges that it usually “would not be thumping for a candidate whose other endorsements range from the teachers union and the Working Families Party to Gloria Steinem,” it is willing to do so in order to “put an end to this awful reality show.” The editorial concludes by calling Stringer a “sober, honest man who understands how the city works and how important the job of comptroller is.” After all, he’s just an “Upper West Side liberal,” while Spitzer is “a hotheaded, hooker-chasing, office-abusing, self-promoting, lawbreaking, ego-obsessed ‘steamroller’ who still has trouble admitting he ever did anything wrong.” Unfortunately for Stringer, that — or perhaps some more nuanced version of it — is just more interesting than mere competence.