As I write this, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is faced with an ultimatum: step down in the next 48 hours or face impeachment proceedings for his involvement in a prostitution ring. It is certain that many on Wall Street are basking in schadenfreude—they’re calling it Spitzenfreude—over this shocking turn of events, as Spitzer’s pugnacious, no-holds-barred reputation derived chiefly from prosecuting the alleged corporate misdeeds of big brokerage houses, mutual fund firms and insurance companies.
This governor, who rode into Albany last year on a high horse vowing to stamp out corruption in New York government, is a shining knight no more. Today, he is simply “Client 9” on a federal affidavit.
Here in Illinois…well, need I even finish that statement? If you were to set our own governor’s first inaugural address from 2003 side by side with Governor Spitzer’s first inaugural address four years later, you’d have a difficult time telling them apart for all the empty talk of reform. And, thus, instead of “Client 9,” we are left in the hands of “Public Official A.”
I think we’ve seen this movie before.
An AP article wonders, “Why do smart people do dumb things?” This is hardly the first time a powerful public official has succumbed to a hidden element of self-destruction. From President Bill Clinton to Governor George Ryan, we know these actors’ lines by heart. And while there is enormous capacity in this country for compassion and forgiveness—we’re all human, after all—that capacity seems to be inversely related to the degree of hypocrisy at hand. And hypocrisy we have in abundance.
As our governor ponders his own situation, I feel the need to share with him a few of the week’s economic highlights:
- Employment situation worse than feared
- Construction spending continues retreat
- Manufacturing sector worsens
- Productivity, unit labor costs upwardly revised
- Factory orders fall for first time in five months
- Nonmanufacturing sector continues struggle
- Consumer credit debt rises
- U.S. trade deficit expanded
- Pump prices hit new record high.
Employers in the Peoria area are “cautiously optimistic,” according to the latest Manpower report. We are wise to be optimistic, but we are also wise to be cautious. Although our local economy appears better prepared than some to navigate these turbulent times, we can take nothing for granted. As a recent Wall Street Journal column points out, no city, region or industry is truly “recession-proof.”
How long can this state stand to be led by “Public Official A?” As a former actor and Eureka College alum once famously said, “There you go again.” This movie is getting old—who’s got the remote? IBI