On the Town

I certainly wasn't planning to write about the Eliot Spitzer case. High-priced hookers or not, New York governors are not on my usual beat.

To be honest, I couldn't even get too excited over whether Spitzer's wife of 20 years - a Harvard Law graduate like Spitzer himself - should have stood by his side when he announced his resignation.

The way I see it, if she didn't know what kind of guy she was married to after all that time, she probably has a little soul-searching to do, too.

The only thing that really matters, besides the embarrassment Spitzer has caused his family, is that in his previous job as a hard-charging attorney general of the state, he prosecuted two prostitution rings and presumably sent several people to the pokey.

And for that act of surpassing hypocrisy, he deserves everything that's coming to him.

• • •

But then, wouldn't you know it, someone forwards me the copy of a blog entry by former Portland resident of note Alan Webber.

I actually knew Alan once. Back in the early '70s, he and I worked together on a small political magazine called the Oregon Times. I was the editor, he was assistant editor - and as I've said many times, we'd have been a lot better off if the titles had been reversed, because Alan, let me tell you, is one smart cookie.

After the Oregon Times and a stint as an editor at Willamette Week, Alan went to work for Portland's dashing new mayor, Neil Goldschmidt. When Goldschmidt went to Washington as Secretary of Transportation, Alan went with him.

But what sets Alan apart from other Goldschmidt loyalists is that he went on to become a major figure in American publishing. After five years as managing editor of the Harvard Business Review he founded a business magazine called Fast Company, which he sold a few years ago for the second-highest amount ever paid for an American magazine.

As you might imagine, operating as he did in those circles, Webber had the opportunity to meet some of this nation's richest and most influential people - including the man he identifies as 'a friend of mine,' Eliot Spitzer.

• • •

'Empathy for Eliot,' begins the blog entry. 'It's happened again. Another young, smart, dynamic, high-profile leader has crash and burned … yet another sex scandal.'

And as it happens, Alan knows why - he wanted to get caught. He says he saw it happen before when another dear friend 'was brought low by the revelation of a sad sexual scandal more than 20 years after the fact.'

Like Spitzer, this unidentified friend was 'brilliant, a meteor shooting into the sky.' … But somehow, Alan explains, he was 'in over his head, too high up too fast, too far out of his safety zone.'

'If you've climbed out on a limb that is more than you can handle and you're a very public person, how do you end the suspense? You saw the limb off yourself, you bring yourself down.'

Good theory, I suppose. On the other hand, if Goldschmidt wanted to get caught that bad, why did he pay the poor girl several hundred thousand dollars to keep her mouth shut?

And another thing, Alan: It wasn't a 'sex scandal.'

It was statutory rape.

Contact Phil Stanford by phone, 503-546-5166, or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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