The main premise of the movie Client 9 is that Eliot Spitzer’s powerful enemies – including Wall Street titans and the Bush administration — conspired to undermine him.
Whether this is true or not is almost irrelevant.
That’s because Spitzer was responsible for his own downfall. Nobody twisted his arm to patronize prostitutes. He gave his enemies the ammunition they needed to destroy him.
And in a perhaps redemptive moment at the end of the film, Spitzer says as much. He says that no matter what else happened, no matter what others did, he has only himself to blame.
This movie is worth watching just to see this extraordinary comment. It doesn’t take away your anger toward Spitzer, but it does lessen it. In its place, you develop new anger and disgust toward a variety of others:
Ken Langone bragged about knowing that Spitzer was going down, and then crowed when he did.
Michael Garcia and his aides at the Justice Department did everything they could to embarrass Spitzer, even pressing prostitutes about Spitzer’s sexual proclivities.
Ashley Dupre exploited her single encounter with Spitzer into career-building exercise with the help of the New York Post.
Roger Stone really did leave a profanity-laced diatribe on the answering machine of Spitzer’s elderly father.
There aren’t many sympathetic figures in the movie, but one who stands out is Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice. Again and again, Barrett, in his sardonic way, places sensational developments in the proper context.
Another interesting figure in the movie is Spitzer’s former communications director, Darren Dopp, who offers intriguing anecdotes about the enigmatic Spitzer. Dopp says Spitzer knew he was being watched by enemies, and knew that if he ever faltered, his enemies and the media would be merciless.
Indeed, this is an aspect of the Spitzer saga we find most vexing. Given that knowledge, why did Spitzer continue on such a dangerous course? Why indeed?