Is Governor Eliot Spitzer a Hypocritical Integrity Crusader?

by Dr. David Gruder

The New York Times reported today that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has told senior advisers he had been involved in a prostitution ring.

This news would not make it into my IntegrityWatch Blog were it not for the fact that Spitzer built his political legacy on rooting out corruption from Wall Street to prostitution rings. Time magazine had named him "Crusader of the Year" when he was attorney general and the tabloids proclaimed him "Eliot Ness."

Spitzer arrived in the New York governor’s office in 2006 on the wave of a historic share of the vote, largely because of his vows to continue his no-nonsense approach to fixing one of the USA’s worst state governments.

But his stint as governor has been marred by several problems, including a plot by his aides to smear Spitzer’s main Republican nemesis. Spitzer had been expected to testify to the state Public Integrity Commission he himself had created to answer for his role in the scandal, in which his aides are accused of misusing state police to compile travel records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno.

Spitzer acknowledged his involvement with the prostitution ring in a written statement today that included the following: "I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better."

I appreciate Governor Spitzer for having issued an apology rather than having refused to take responsibilty for his actions, as so many people tend to do these days. On the other hand, the FBI has wiretapping evidence that apparently would have made it even worse for him had he issued a denial.

Additionally, I have repeatedly said in my books and audios over the years that while apologies are a great starting place when a wrong has been committed, they are far too often used as a ploy to put an end to an issue before it is over. Even redress is not the end of the matter. The only apology that has meaningful value is one that includes making realistic plans to handle future similar situations in more honorable ways. This is the essence of what I call Commitment Competence.

For the fact that his actions directly contradict his crusading, and for his lack of commitment competence in responding to this situation (at least thus far), Governor Spitzer has earned my Political Integrity Deficit Award for March 10, 2008.

I discuss the shadow side of being a crusader in my book, The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World. You will find details at www.TheNewIQ.com/book

To learn how to more accurately assess political integrity, visit my Politician Integrity Rating Tool at www.TheNewIQ.com/pirt

Ask Me the Integrity Question That’s Most On Your Mind!
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