The implosion of Eliot Spitzer looks fated to become one of the more dramatic downfalls in American political history. It was Spitzer's reputation as a tough-as-nails, populist prosecutor of Wall Street misdeeds that attached to him what, with 20-20 hindsight, were totally outrageous expectations: First Jewish President. Savior of Democratic Populism. Tamer of Corporate America.

Almost as soon as he entered office, Spitzer's flaws were brought to light. New Yorkers have rolled their eyes through an unbecoming scandal in which he used aides to dig dirt on Joseph Bruno, the Republican Senate majority leader and, arguably, Albany's most powerful figure. Then, politically chastened, Spitzer proved weak-kneed on his own proposal to grant undocumented immigrants driver's licenses. This was the same proposal that so tripped up Hillary Clinton during fall debates.

The timing of this prostitution brouhaha isn't very helpful, as New York Democrats are hoping to take over the State Senate, which would finally allow some more progressive legislation to break through.

One last thought: When politicians are caught cheating, I wish they'd leave their wives in the green room while they address the press. You're in the dog house, and it should look that way. Those "stand by your man" visuals are tired and demeaning.

--Dana Goldstein

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