Democrats have a history of self-destruction. And that may be one way of explaining the attack on Andrew Cuomo by Eliot Spitzer. Yet in this case Spitzer may be the only one self-destructing. It’s sad because, once, he seemed to have such great potential.
In an interview with The New York Times, Spitzer criticized Cuomo for failing to take on Wall Street aggressively. Asked about Cuomo’s reputation as a "tough guy," Spitzer said: "Toughness is not the issue. It’s easy to be tough if the selection of one’s target is driven by politics. The real test is, do you take on the battles that have been unpopular and perhaps seem impossible to win but are important to take on?"
Spitzer resigned from the governor’s job in disgrace in 2008 after it was revealed he had patronized a prostitution ring. He has been testing the political waters in what appears to be an attempt at a comeback.
But the man who ran his 1998 campaign for attorney general, Hank Sheinkopf, strongly attacked his former client.
He told me: "Eliot understands that it’s easier to rehabilitate yourself from a sex scandal than corruption. But people won’t forget what life was like in his administration."
Sheinkopf listed: "the abuse of the state police by using them to gather evidence against the Senate’s Republican Majority Leader, Joe Bruno; the misuse of other public employees to gather information against enemies; the fact that his approval rating had sunk to 35% by the time he quit."
"He can’t rehabilitate himself by attacking a successful attorney general."
Spitzer, as Attorney General, enjoyed being called the "Sheriff of Wall Street." Spitzer now accuses Cuomo of being soft on the financial industry, saying he would have liked Cuomo to have been "a bit more disruptive to Wall Street."
The Democratic elder statesman in Albany, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, accused Spitzer of playing a game of political "payback" -- punishing Cuomo for his part in undermining the Spitzer administration.
Silver told the Post that "Eliot Spitzer has had his opportunity and now it’s time for someone else to have that opportunity. I don’t see how this helps him."
This all falls under the heading of minor bickering. What should capture the attention of voters would be the real issues.
So far, Andrew Cuomo, has kept silent on that score. The general assumption is he’s running -- and he won’t discuss issues until he’s officially nominated at the party convention in late May.
The Republicans will be nominating someone in early June. The party primaries will be in September. And voters will have a chance to hear issues discussed all summer and fall.
Silver has it right. It’s time for someone else to have a chance.