Wednesday, March 12, 2008

ELLIOT SPITZER, THE TRAGEDY

Elliot Spitzer is living a true Shakespearean tragedy. As in Hamlet, he has been hoist by his own petard.

It's easy to spit on Spitzer (sorry), after all, as Governor of NY, he was arrogant, self-righteous, puritanical and tenacious. He made a lot of enemies who literally clapped their hands at his downfall. His resignation is just. He is an easy target to be sure. But as he stands in public these last few days with dutiful wife, Silda, by his side, I wonder about Elliot Spitzer. Not the fallen politician - the man, the husband, the father. I heard in some of the hundreds of recent interviews that in spite of being despised in his governance, to those who know him personally, he is a good man. One who truly loves his wife and daughters. I heard one interviewee say, "They had a real marriage, a real family. Not one for the cameras." Somehow, I believe this to be true. I don't know why, my gut just tells me so. Furthermore, by the looks of Silda she seems to be in such great emotional pain that I assume this came as a great shock to her. A real shock, not one for the cameras.

Spitzer said today in his resignation speech that the measure of a human being, "is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall". I realize many will see his focus on his personal failings as a deflection from the political damage he has caused. Could be. Nevertheless, the personal is what I keep coming back to as I digest this debacle. I agree he is destroyed as a politician. That his mission for cleaning up government remains valid though no longer attainable by him. He is marked, branded with his own scarlet letter. No one will heed him again on matters of morality. Ever.

But the real question is will his family? That's what sticks with me. Like Angelo in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, Spitzer fought doggedly and publicly against demons that haunted him privately. No one can debate that he knew he was committing crimes when transferring money and hiring prostitutes. It's easy to criticize and say he felt entitled and superior, but isn't human nature more complex than that?

I'm sure that in years to come, with clarifying distance, there will be an autobiography on this trying time to inform us further about his inner turmoil. And I'm sure I'm in the minority when I say I hope Silda sticks by her husband at least long enough to take the psychological journey with him. After the sediment lands, she can assess whether her college sweetheart truly is the man she fell for. I'd like to believe that when you've shared a life with someone that it has not been for naught. That all the good you thought was there, that you fell in love with, is still there, just temporarily buried under the weight of human frailty.

I may get slammed for this post. Criticized for seeing life through rose-colored glasses. Believe me, in the past and still on occasion, I am a huge skeptic. But lately, I've been developing my compassion (thanks Oprah), opening up to the gray shades of life. I may be right, I may be wrong. I may be hoist on my own petard, but I'm truly interested to see how this all pans out for Elliot Spitzer, the human being, and his family.

4 Comments:

McSwain said...

The Spitzers put a public face on something that not many people understand, but something too many have lived through. I have never blogged about it, by my ex, the father of my son, is a sex addict. I'd never heard of such a thing until I found out that my ex had been leading a double life. I don't know if Spitzer's an actual addict, but I would guess he probably is based on the facts. It's an ugly thing, beyond horrible to the family when it gets to the point of actual prostitution, and incredibly dangerous for families. Addicts bring home not only the behavior of a drug/alcohol addict, but also INCURABLE DISEASES.

Having been there? I would tell Silda to run as fast as she possibly can, and to get herself into a recovery program for wives just as fast.

Seeing her face in those pictures has come close to getting me to blog about my own, very painful, highly personal experience.

Dawn said...

I think it's an incredibly personal decision. I haven't been through something so public, but I know it is not helpful to someone going through an infidelity to be criticized by her friends or anyone else for staying with her husband, even if it's temporary.

Personally, I would be hard pressed to throw away all those shared years. It would be difficult, but I think I'd have to make the effort, if my husband were willing, to rebuild our marriage.

Manic Mommy said...

No one knows what goes on inside a marriage except the two people in it.

I once told my husband that while I didn't know if I'd leave him if he cheated on me, it would certainly break my heart. It all depends on the circumstances.

I don't judge her for standing by him and I wouldn't judge her if she had kicked him in the balls while he stood on the podium.

Leendaluu said...

I think Eliot was incredibly stupid, and as a resident of NY, who voted for him, I feel letdown because I really, really thought he could do great things for this state.

I have met Silda and fund-raising and found her to be a funny, genuine soul so my heart really goes out to her right now. I wish the media would let it go and give this family some space.

On another note, I just found your blog and it's great....the name MerlotMom tells me you could be a friend of mine! (raising my glass of merlot to you!)

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