Thursday, November 11, 2010


Eliot Spitzer in Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.
Finance and flesh

By John Esther

There was a time and space where Eliot Spitzer's future looked good, really good. A liberal politician for law and order, it seemed the blue-eyed, silver spoon, New York Attorney General-turned-New York Governor may even become the United States' "First Jewish President." A defiant, courageous prosecutor who was not afraid to take on tycoons of industry, Spitzer became a hero for the working families of New York, prosecuting the kind of Wall Street thugs who would eventually bring America to the brink of economic collapse in 2008.

In the processes, Spitzer created a few very powerful enemies determined he be taught that the privileged were all to adapt at playing with their unfair advantage. With unlimited resources at hand, forces were sent out to get him. Since just about everyone has a weakness, it was only time before they found Spitzer's Achilles' heel.

Astonishingly, Spitzer, the disciplined disciplinarian, husband and father of three daughters was caught trying to get his pants down and off with ill repute company.

Directed by Alex Gibney, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer goes into the heart of Manhattan and New York State politics, uncovering the power, corruption, egos and lies of politicians and the economic hit men, mostly Republican, who wanted to take the state's most popular Democrat down and out of play. Was this an elaborate payback scheme?

Unlike others caught in adulterous situations – former U.S. President Bill Clinton; U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) – Spitzer resigned his post. Why did Spitzer not say, "I made a mistake, let's move on"? Did New Yorkers really care so much about his infidelity and indiscretion, which did not effect them directly, to the degree it would outweigh the many accomplishments Spitzer achieved – e.g. bringing down the Gambino family's control of Manhattan trucking; inducing Merrill Lynch to pay a $100 million fine – which actually did have an effect on their lives?

Straying slightly from his typical talking head format, Gibney, along with Peter Elkin -- whom Gibney collaborated with on another documentary about statewide politics, money and corruption, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room -- interviews former Chairman and CEO of AIG Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, New York State Senator Joe Bruno (R), Home Depot Co-Founder Ken Langone and a particularly Roveian Republican strategist named Roger Stone.

These are some powerful men who do not usually speak to someone outside their milieu and once you hear them speak you can sense a class-I(d)-call disdain for politicians and the popular vote which puts them there. All may be fair in war and love, but nothing is fair in politics.

Gibney also gets Spitzer in front of the camera to ask him the begging question: Why would an extremely successful man go to considerable lengths just to jeopardize his public and private reputation just to get laid by a $1000-a-night escort? Occasionally reserved at times, Spitzer usually provides some thoughtful answers, in the process convincing the viewer that he may be back on top some day, some way.

Although some of the song narratives are unfortunate, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer is far more thorough analysis of the rise and fall of Spitzer than we have heard through the media, Gibney's documentary sheds more light on contemporary politics, where the corruption of a personal marriage seems to take down anyone faster than the corruption of those grand institutions of a statewide, national, global proportion.

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