Before he was the embarrassed governor, he was the successful attorney general with a national profile and a sterling ethical reputation.
Now that Eliot Spitzer is "Client 9" at the Emperors Club prostitution referral service, at least as far as a federal indictment indicates, the New York Governor is at best a hobbled politician, at worst a disgraced has-been.
Around the country, he was known as the Sheriff of Wall Street, for taking on powerful crookedness in the financial industry. But he also made huge progress on cleaning the nation's air, in coalitions with other states attorneys general, at a time when the Bush Administration was not being as aggressive as the states wanted.
Whether it was toxic mercury, smog and acid rain or global warming, Spitzer would reliably fight on behalf of environmentalists and scientists who sought to strengthen weak standards to protect human health and the environment.
There were high hopes that he'd continue that strong environmental legacy as governor.
In New York today, and around the nation and world, newspapers have his face and terse unspecific apology on the front page. It's hard to imagine him emerging as a successful governor, though he's reportedly deliberating whether or not to remain in office. His legacy, at least, will be defined less now by names like the crusader for clean air or the Sheriff of Wall Street, and more by Client 9.
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