Eliot Spitzer: The Greatest American Hero

Spitzer flag

The mind reels. Not because we didn’t see it coming, but because as soon as it came we knew it couldn’t have happened any other way.

I was reminded of an old advice column Terry Rossio wrote for screenwriters, about a movie’s perfect ending:

Here’s my iron-clad rule for how a movie should end. (How’s that for taking a stance?) A good ending must be decisive, set-up, and inevitable — but nonetheless unexpected.

It’s worth reading, if for no other reason than his argument that Darby O’Gill and the Little People is the greatest ending ever filmed.

A meeting I had around noon today was disturbed by the police helicopters hovering ominously close by over west Soho. I put my money down that Spitzer had climbed to the top of the Trump Soho Tower and was threatening to jump. The competing bet was that Spitzer had pulled an O.J. and was heading south down Varick in a white Bronco. But the helicopters were circling too slow, so we changed the Bronco to a steamroller. He knew he was gonna go down, but not until he took Wall Street with him. (The reality was Spitzerless but no less silly: aspiring Michael Bays filming a sniper scene on Kate Hudson’s roof without a permit. Also idiots, maybe, but aspiring Hollywood idiots.)

Somehow we’re still surprised that politicians don’t stop doing this, but in the Greek model a Hero couldn’t earn that title until he had his tragic ending. And back then too, when it wasn’t war it was sex. Heracles, remember, was set on fire by his wife for extramarital activities (including, and this should make Republicans feel a little better, a taste for the boys).

If there’s a difference between the mythographers and today’s journalists, it’s that the fatal flaws never erased the worship of their great men. Their flaws were a prerequisite; they came with the territory. We won’t be remembering Spitzer though, because the hubris peaked before he completed his labors. He sprinted and sputtered out.

Related:
Spitzer Hero Card
Update: Hercules and Love Affair review

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