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Troopergate Puts Spitz on the Skids

It wasn't long ago that Eliot Spitzer, reveling in the glory of a national media frenzy for having shaken down Wall Street scams with a power not even the entire Securities and Exchange Commission could muster, hinted he might one day run for president of the United States.

That hardly seems plausible now, due to the Troopergate investigation over whether the New York governor's top aides dug up dirt on his Republican rival, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno; Spitzer's own refusal to testify as to whether his henchmen were following his orders; and the distinctly growing possibility his aides perjured themselves to cover up for him.

The questions over these dirty tricks, and how much of a part Spitzer played in them, have shaken his constituency's confidence to astonishingly low levels. Making matters worse was Spitzer's wild idea about giving driver's licenses to illegal aliens, setting off a national furor, along with the latest revelation of a startling rise in the number of New York prisoners being let out on parole. This year, the New York State Parole Board has set 14% of the most violent felons free, up from 8% in 2006.

The public is taking notice. A whopping 70% of New York voters say the governor is doing a fair or poor job, and 51% think of him unfavorably, according to a Siena College poll of 625 registered voters released last week. Put another way, a scant 27% of New Yorkers think the self-proclaimed "steamroller" is doing a good job, and only 36% of them think well of him.

And every month, the numbers paint a worse picture. In June, 64% viewed Spitzer favorably. That became just 46% in November.

At this point, 56% of voters say they would not re-elect Spitzer.

How far the mighty do fall. Although it was unlikely that a person with as austere a personality as Spitzer's could ever appeal to the general public as the leader of the nation, as a change agent, he stood a remote chance. But that, truly, is highly unlikely now. For Spitzer, the past year has been nothing more than petty politics as usual.

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