As yesterday’s news broke that New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, was involved in an international prostitution ring as a very regular customer, reactions were mixed. There were those who reacted with complete shock (Spitzer’s reputation for maintaining a moral high ground had earned him the title of “Mr. Clean”). And there were also those who felt sincere delight. One example came right from the trading room floor of the NYSE as business grounded to halt as the entire assembly erupted in overwhelming applause. (Spitzer earned his reputation as he hungrily, mercilessly persecuted those on Wall Street for various white collar crimes). It seems his unapologetic sense of self-righteousness has more than a few people pleased to find him on the other end of a legal investigation.
As is typical when things like this surface (and they always do), Spitzer issued a very structured statement in which he apologized to his family, apologized for his errors in judgment, and never once admitted committing any crime. As images of a certain shamed New Jersey governor flashed through my head, you also had to notice the supportive wife standing by Spitzer’s side, a stoic trying to sustain complete betrayal, humiliation, and devastation.
Now, as more details come to light, the public is eagerly consuming every little tidbit about the call girl, the liaisons, and even his discreet moniker, “Client #9”. All of this is very interesting, very sordid, and very typical of a philandering politician (I’m sorry, was that redundant?).
There is one thing no one is talking about: the simple fact that the man has three teenage daughters.
Speaking as someone who once was a teenage girl and who taught them for almost a decade, I can honestly say that, when everything comes out in the wash and the truth and lies are all sorted, these three girls will no doubt be the ones permanently stained by the entire ordeal.
They are young. They are at a point in their lives when they have no idea who they are, where they may be going, or what awaits them in the future. And now they have a father who cared more about partaking in sexual indulgences than being a model human being for them…he is one of their two most important teachers.
I realize that this is not exactly the forum to vent. This blog is really a place for me to make fun of myself, make fun of the trials of motherhood, and occasionally, make fun of a deserving “celebutard”. But I feel compelled to say one more thing before I return to in depth discussions of poopy diapers, spit up, and soccer moms:
Dear Mr. Spitzer,
You had made a name for yourself by seeking out wrongdoing and making it right. You had established a standard of good citizenship and accountability.
You had governed the great Empire State with resolve and fortitude.
You had given your daughters something not only to be proud of, but something to seek to emulate as they enter adulthood.
And you have, with one egregiously indulgent misstep, erased every good you have ever done.
As the years pass and your daughters become women of their own, they may be asked what single most influential event shaped their childhood. They will not say their father’s public service, nor will they say their father’s commitment to honor and integrity.
I think you know what they’ll say. And they will not remember the words of wisdom you bestowed, the recitals you attended, the "Happy Birthdays" you sang, because one family tragedy will tarnish all triumphs.
And for the rest of us, because I am very far from perfect, let us always remember to put our children first in every aspect of our lives for all they count on is the love, guidance, and example of the two people who love them most. Their well-being will be your greatest legacy.