Memo to Eliot Spitzer: Get to Work

It's Eliot Spitzer in Surround-Sound these days. Between the book ("Rough Justice"),the movie (Alex Gibney doc, unfinished cut), and the big Times interview this weekend in which the ex-gov savaged his would-be successor, Andrew Cuomo, it's All Spitzer, All the Time. Which is clearly how the once hard-punching pol likes it. The game plan is some kind of political comeback sooner rather than later. The working presumption is that voters will consider a guest-host slot on MSNBC, and a few thousand interviews sufficient prep work for a new political career.

Someone should tell him he's still deep in the hole to the voters of New York State. By any fair reckoning, Eliot Spitzer still owes us several thousand hours of true community service. That's what he promised when we elected him in 2006 with the biggest majority in recent state history. His hooker scandal forced him out after less than a year and a half on the job, so there's the balance of that first term. And then there ought to be some kind of extra penalty for having stuck us with David Paterson. All in all, it adds up to a few years of decent, hard work, doing something other than helping his father's real estate business get even richer, which is what he's been doing when he isn't on cable TV.

He's got a brilliant legal mind and, if really wanted to win back voters' trust, he should have started putting it to work a long time ago on behalf of people who could use the help. He could be over at Legal Services NYC, working for people up against it in Housing or Family courts, or helping to come up with strategies to expand legal representation for all those who face the courts without it.

He could head over to the Legal Aid Society to put his shoulder to the wheel on behalf of those caught up in the system because they can't make bail or get a fair hearing on the charges against them.

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If he wanted to wrestle with the big picture cases, he could head over to the Brennan Center for Justice, the outfit who gave him a leg up in his run for governor a few years ago when they dubbed the state legislature the nation's most dysfunctional. Or else, there's Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Education Fund.

There's no shortage of do-good organizations in New York where a guy still looking to make up for a major public disgrace could try to dig his way back into our good graces. Any one of them could use more from the former governor than an occasional check for a charity event. Redemption is there for the taking, for those who earn it.


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