Friday, February 4, 2011

Client 9 (or, The World of Whores)

Alex Gibney's 2009 documentary on the meteoric rise and straight vertical fall of former New York State Attorney General and Governor Eliot Spitzer, Client 9, is a mesmerizing account of how the worst people on Earth go about their daily business. The scum that rose to avenge themselves for Spitzer's assault on their criminality are given the chance to relate their experiences, hypocrisy free. Spitzer is front and center, not particularly sympathetic himself, but amidst the creeps that abound, he's the Dalai Lama.
Watching former New York State Senate President and Majority Leader Joe Bruno, twice convicted on felony fraud charges, rail against Spitzer's persecution and unfair treatment of his noble self, is jaw-dropping. You know the old joke, about the kid who killed his parents. "Have mercy, your Honor, I'm an orphan." That's Joe Bruno.

But he's an altar boy compared to the Wall Street powerhouses that were felled directly by Spitzer when he was a superhero lawman, or came a-crashing down after the klieg lights were focused on their dark of night thievery. The rat-faced "Hank" Greenberg,

former CEO of AIG is Exhibit A in the case against unfettered capitalism. A down and dirty bandit, ousted by his own board when the company's accountants wouldn't certify AIG's financial statement due to Greenberg's fraudulent transactions, "Hank" has the temerity to assert that Spitzer is to blame for the 2008 economic collapse. Why? You can guess - the troubles at AIG, that led to massive government bailouts of the company would never have occurred under Greenberg's watch. Of course, it may be true, as he may have directed AIG to other types of chicanery. Greenberg's ability to ignore his crookedness that pre-dated 2008 is psychopathic. Sure, I may have molested your kid, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be principal of an elementary school!

Spitzer himself is a flawed mess. Clearly his appearance in the film was part of the massive rehabilitation movement that has resulted in his own show on CNN. Spitzer's comments on his life as hubris and Greek tragedy are a cop out, a way of taking the mundane nature of screwing hookers and elevating it to mythical status. Like the scuzzballs who surround him in the film, Spitzer has an over sized ego, one that results in the occasional third person reference. You hear that and you know you're dealing with a troubled man. His overblown sense of importance permeated his staff. One mentions that Spitzer was on a clear path to becoming the first Jewish President. What world do these people live in?
Look we all want money and we all want sex. What galls me about this motley crew of diseased minds is their unwillingness to look for these things within the confines of existing rules and realities. Was there not enough money to be made legitimately that "Hank" Greenberg had to commit crimes to pad his wealth? Is it not possible for an elected official to serve and not become a felon? Can it be that satisfaction in bed is not possible within a married life?

That's ultimately where I can't connect to these types. Spitzer's story is not about a man who didn't play by the rules he insisted others abide by, or whether his descent was a political hit. Those are interesting points, but not what I derived from Client 9. What I got was a genuine sadness that those who seem to have it all are dissatisfied with their lot and need to break free of societal constraints for more. That's sad.

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