Spitzer Giving Way to Paterson in New York
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Whatever else you think about Eliot Spitzer, he said he should take responsibility for his actions and yesterday he did. Spitzer announced his resignation yesterday as governor of New York. He did so admit an investigation of his payments for prostitution and the U.S. Attorney put out a statement that there is no agreement with Eliot Spitzer. If taken at face value, that statement would suggest Spitzer did not give up his job in exchange for avoiding prosecution. We do not know what happens to him next. NPR's Margot Adler reports on what is known.
MARGOT ADLER: TV cameras showed aerial shots of Governor Spitzer's black sedan going from his Manhattan home to his mid-town office. It was a kind of O.J. moment. Then the governor made his second short statement in three days. His first on Monday was less than a minute, his second yesterday was two minutes and 32 seconds.
Governor ELIOT SPITZER (Democrat, New York Governor): I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize. I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been.
ADLER: Spitzer's swift fall from the state's highest office was stunning and many New Yorkers are still shocked, but a Marist College poll showed that 70 percent of New Yorkers wanted him to resign and half believed he should be criminally charged. Yesterday at 11:45 a.m. he stood with his wife Silda. He said that in the past few days he had begun to atone for his private failings that over the course of his life he had insisted that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct.
Gov. SPITZER: I can and will ask no less of myself.
ADLER: His statement still didn't say anything about what he did wrong and was extremely dry, even unemotional.
Gov. SPITZER: As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family. Then I will try once again, outside of politics to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children.
ADLER: In 2006, the Democratic governor was elected with almost 70 percent of the vote, as a reformer who would bring change to Albany in the same way he had taken on Wall Street and organized crime when he was state Attorney General. But his term was compromised by Trooper-Gate, a plot by his aids to track the travels of Republican State Senate Majority leader Joseph Bruno. And Spitzer's plan to give driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants backfired. But no one suspected anything like this. Perhaps one of the reasons he went so swiftly, unlike other politicians who have weathered sex scandals, is in the end his self-righteousness won him few supporters. Former Mayor Ed Koch said this is a Greek tragedy.
Mr. ED KOCH (Democrat, Former New York City Mayor): Regrettably, since he kicked so many people when he was top dog as they say, those he kicked are gleeful at his pain.
ADLER: The new governor is David Paterson, a long time state senator. Paterson will be only the third black governor since reconstruction. Known as someone who is well liked by both Republicans and Democrats, Patterson has a keen intellect, a sense of humor, and a bit of humility. Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said he looked forward to working with a new governor.
Senator JOSEPH BRUNO (Republican, New York State Senate): We've partnered on a great number of things and we have an excellent relationship. I've talked to him any number of times in these last couple of days and have indicated to him that we will partner and govern forward on behalf of our mutual constituents, the people of New York State.
ADLER: David Paterson will be sworn in Monday at noon.
Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.