early and often

Eliot Spitzer Is Holding Court Again

In between the anniversary of his $4,300 transaction with Ashley Dupré (Feb 13) and the anniversary of his resignation as governor (March 12), Eliot Spitzer has decided he’s ready to come out of hiding. His appearance at Tuesday’s Not State of the Union viewing party held in the East 63rd Street home of Emily and Len Blavatnik and hosted by the Atlantic, Celerie Kemble, and Boykin Curry, seemed to be a clear toe-dipping back into the pool of public life. Or more than a toe-dip: After the speech, the disgraced former governor took the mike to give the room his assessment of it, and engaged in a little friendly barbing with former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. At no point did anyone — including Daily Intel, we’re ashamed to say — acknowledge the elephant in the room. Is it possible to get taken seriously in a domestic-policy debate without at least joking about how you lost your job as New York’s tough-on-crime governor because of your involvement in an illegal prostitution ring? Apparently so. After the jump, Spitzer on everything except, of course, what we really care about.

On the emotional impact of seeing Obama speak before Congress:
“This is one of those rare moments that make you proud and says, ‘We have shown the world what we can do.’”

On why he thinks the speech didn’t work:
“The issue with this speech is for me, once again, he is aspirationally brilliant. Exquisite speech, and programatically on point, but the execution is going to be UNBELIEVABLY difficult. He talked about the auto industry and General Motors. I looked at General Motors’ plan this past weekend and I don’t think there’s a prayer that they accomplish it. There are assumptions and presumptions about the auto market that are not real. More automobiles were sold in China over the last month than in the United States of America. We are losing our position as the largest market, the largest creator of intellectual capital.”

On what’s to blame for the current crisis:
“Yes we have the CEOs with the jets, but at a larger level, it begins with hypocrisy, with those who have led us to the precipice … They took everything in sight and violated their fundamental fiduciary obligation to shareholders, employees, and consumers. That is not what capitalism is about. The abandonment of the rules of capitalism and the abandonment of what makes the market work is what permitted it. And that’s, unfortunately, what President Bush came to stand for.”

On the dangers of populism:
“I’m pretty fearful of populism, because populism is not the answer. The answer is a market. And what we had before was a perversion of a market, without enough regulation. But what I’m just as fearful of on the other side is those who believe that government can articulate a market by dictating what CEOs should earn. There is a rational response that says, ‘How do you make a market work?’ And bizarrely enough, there’s an article about public education having income-pegged loans, so you repay your higher-education loans based on your earnings. So you’re not worried about tuition going in. You say, I can go to Harvard, I can go to SUNY Bingleton Binghamton and pay X percentage of it next year. So I can be a teacher or I can be a partner at Goldman Sachs, but I can go to school and take out loans. This can work. They do it in Europe, they do it in Australia. Jim Tobin tried it at Yale. It didn’t work for some technical reasons, but there are answers out there that are not populist answers, nor are the libertarian answers.”

On his past stance as a foe of Wall Street:
“It’s not a matter of vindication, or being right or wrong. Look, I’ve seen the peaks and the valleys of public service. You just try to do your best. I look back and I say, look, I spent a decade. I was lucky to be there for a decade. I tried hard.”

On jogging:
“The problem is my hamstring. My hamstring and my calf muscle. I’m 49. I turn 50 in six months. I now act like the people I used to laugh at. [Now] I work out in different ways. I get out there when I can, but it’s a little slower and not quite as far as I used to go.”

On what he’s up to:
“We’ll see. I’m writing for Slate, which I enjoy. I’m happy to be working with my dad in the family business, and now I’m spending more time with my family, which is something that I should have been doing more of over the last couple of years.”

That part about hypocrisy was pretty good, right?

Eliot Spitzer Is Holding Court Again