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Archive of The Smartest Guy in the Room


10:38 AM

The Smartest Guy in the Room 

Spitzer's Support for Gays Will Not Be Tested

Eliot Spitzer LOVES gay people.Photograph by Patrick McMullan

"Marriage is coming to New York, and if you stay put, it'll be here sooner than you think," Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, told the Daily Intelligencer yesterday.

The New Jersey Supreme Court's decision to recognize same-sex couples will compel the State Legislature to either allow gay marriage or create civil unions. New Jersey is the latest New York neighbor to legalize some sort of gay union, and we might be slow to (ahem) keep up with the Jerseyites.

Soon-to-be governor Eliot Spitzer is unequivocally in favor of gay marriage, telling the Empire State Pride agenda on October 5, "This is not about government choosing winners or losers. It's about a government that recognizes the fundamental individual value of every single New Yorker." And 53 percent of New Yorkers agree, according to an April poll.

But most likely, Spitzer won't be pushed to take this matter before the legislature until 2009. Only one Republican in the State Senate's GOP majority — Nicholas Spano, of Yonkers — supports same-sex unions. Few believe the Democrats will gain a majority in the Senate this year, leaving Spitzer with two years to amass a record of success on his governmental-reform agenda of lowering taxes and balancing the state budget before attempting to take on a controversial social issue. In one of his debates with John Faso, Spitzer was clear that he would not make gay marriage an early priority in his administration.

No matter what happens, here or in New Jersey, by getting out front on the issue, Spitzer gives himself a cushy spot from which to watch the debate in New Jersey and the national discussion unfold. If gay marriage doesn't come to New York, it will always be the do-nothing legislature, not the mealy mouthed governor, that failed.

New Jersey Okays Gay Marriage [Daily Intelligencer]


4:33 PM

The Smartest Guy in the Room 

Spitzer Reconsiders Hevesi

Spitzer doesn't get all smiley for just anyone.Courtesy Spitzer-Paterson 2006

Just in time for tomorrow's comptroller's debate, Eliot Spitzer is rethinking his endorsement of Alan Hevesi. With only two weeks to go until the election, can the removal of Spitzer's weight make Chris Callaghan's numbers rise like an electoral soufflé? Will Hevesi have to resign even if he wins? Is it worth running a race you'll probably win if you're going to have to quit when you get there? Can honor ever be restored to the word "comptroller" in the eyes of New Yorkers?

Like sands in the hour glass, these questions fall …

And speaking of daytime dramas, where the hell has Jeanine Pirro been to take some of this heat? It's been a rough day.

Spitzer Cools to Hevesi [Empire Zone]


2:48 PM

The Smartest Guy in the Room 

Grasso Verdict Nice But Not Necessary for Spitzer

Today while many mourn the fate of the Mets, our heart goes out to another defeated soul, Richard Grasso, now $100 million poorer than he was this time yesterday. A New York State Supreme Court ruling will leave the former New York Stock Exchange chair with but a mere $39.5 million of his $139.5 million retirement package he lied about to the board that governs the stock exchange. Even worse, poor Grasso was denied the $95 million in severance he believed he was owed for his "termination." That's tough, man.

It remains to be seen if Judge Charles Ramos's decision to grab a bite of Grasso's Cheddar will actually rustle any fig leafs on the engorged schlong of corporate capitalism, but it offers more shining validation for one tin-star-wearing maverick we all know and love. That defender of justice and good is, of course, Eliot Spitzer, the Sheriff of Wall Street, whose office had been trying to lasso Grasso for three years before getting the verdict they were looking for.

In any other election, the verdict's fortuitous timing would seem almost partisan by design, but Spitzer hardly needed the help. He's probably worried it'll make his certain and apparently crushing march to the governor's mansion seem less "pure."

His opponent, John Faso, had recently scrounged up a mini-issue criticizing Spitzer and fellow Democrat, state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, over the botched Moynihan Station deal, which Silver upended earlier this week. But there's Faso luck and then there's Spitzer luck, so don't expect any sort of criticism to stick.

Would You Buy Stock in This Man? [NYM]
Ex-Stock Exchange Chief Told to Return Millions [NYT]
Faso Rips Silver, Spitzer on Station Plan [NYDN]


11:55 AM

The Smartest Guy in the Room 

Spitzer Withholds the Love

That grin is for everyone except Andrew Cuomo.Photograph by Patrick McMullan

Eliot Spitzer was a guest on this morning's "Brian Lehrer Show" on WNYC, taking a few questions from the dulcet-toned king of evenhanded inquiry. B Smooth asked the future governor to comment on the attorney general's race, but Spitzer didn't exactly swoop in to offer Andrew Cuomo a slap on the back and a victory stogie. He didn't even mention Cuomo, instead waxing somewhat vaguely about bringing integrity back to government. Would it have killed Eliot to give Andy a ray or two of shine or a dollop of approval? Even a "Lemme break it down for ya, B. I know Andy isn't exactly Clarence Darrow but cut the lil shaver some slack"? Something. Anything. Spread the Spitz around a little.

The Brian Lehrer Show


10:30 AM

The Smartest Guy in the Room 

Spitzer Scores on Faso Fumble

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso and Democratic steamroller Eliot Spitzer sniped at each other during Tuesday night's debate. They predictably differed on taxes and education and the sudden hot topic of incumbent comptroller Alan Hevesi.

But the debate's comedic high point came from Faso, who warned of liberal gay rights during a Spitzer administration: "He's going to force gay marriage down the throats of many New Yorkers."

In response to the next question, Spitzer drily remarked that he would avoid Faso's "use of metaphors."



2:25 PM

The Smartest Guy in the Room 

Play Jeopardy! With Eliot Spitzer

Democratic governor-in-waiting Eliot Spitzer can come off as a bit of a wisenheimer, but that plays better in New York than, say, Texas. His extensive knowledge of nearly everything frightens his staff, flattens his opponents, and fatigues reporters. The Spitzer Intellect can appear at any time, in response to even the simplest query.

To wit: Here's a recent answer. What question prompted such dedication to detail?

"The premise of the question is flawed. Most of the PCBs that GE discharged into the Hudson River from their Hudson Falls and Fort Edward facilities were discharged illegally, without the consent of government permits. When permits were finally obtained by GE, they were often exceeded. GE's PCBs have had a devastating impact on the Hudson River, resulting in the closing of most of the commercial fishery due to high levels of PCBs in the fish. The federal Superfund law requires that polluters pay the full cost of cleanup of past pollution — not the taxpayers. I fully support the PCB dredging project and further expect GE to be held accountable in the Natural Resource Damage claim that has been filed by the government and which I also fully support. The time has long passed for GE to remove their toxic PCBs from the Hudson."

Was it:

a) "Isn't the Hudson River Valley lovely this time of year?"
b) "Do you enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing?"
c) "Daddy, will you tell me a bedtime story?"
d) "Should General Electric Co. have been forced to dredge the Hudson River to remove PCBs it deposited there before the dumping was made illegal?"

The answer is …