Monday, March 10, 2008


That’s really all I have to say about the revelation that Eliot Spitzer has been implicated in a prostitution ring. Okay, not all I have to say, but I think that about captures it.

How is it that someone who spent so much time and effort pursuing fraud and corruption could put themselves in such a horrible situation? I know, I know: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I think it is phrases like this that make some people think it is okay to act outrageously. Somehow acts that lead to grand downfalls are justified, in the mind of the actor, as the cost of (or reward for) pursuing greatness generally. Then again, maybe it is just this simple: people are fallible and the more high profile a person it is that falls, the more likely we are to learn about it. Some people are mostly good, and some people are mostly bad, and all of us have varying degrees of both qualities.

I had no illusions that Spitzer was perfect, or even necessarily a good person (I have never met the man), but I admit I am a bit surprised by the specific type of downfall. If nothing else, I thought he was smarter than that. I suppose, whether we mean to or not, we have a tendency to treat people, especially famous ones, as all good or all bad. And maybe that is really the issue. Instead of assuming that we know people from the halftime show on Monday Night Football (sidenote: this will always have a piece about Brett Favre) , Behind the Music, or 60 Minutes, we should start recognizing we know only a little bit about the featured personality.

We are all complex beings who cannot be figured out or summarized in a sound bite or snippet. At least, not until we do something really, really outrageous. Then, sometimes, and unfortunately, one simple word captures it all: Seriously?

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