Mr. Morgenthau, now 88, was old school. Eliot Spitzer is, or was, new school. He may be in disgrace this morning, but Eliot Spitzer is a totem for our age. He is of a piece with a culture that elevates and publicizes individuals who "push the edge of the envelope," who do what they gotta do to win and attract adulation. Eliot Spitzer -- the man and his methods -- were admired, even lionized, in some media precincts.
Somewhere along the line in our culture, we all became complicit in elevating and celebrating that which is outsized, not normal -- disproportionate. Eliot Spitzer was a prosecutor on steroids. His audience cheered, until he got caught. Then, quite naturally, it leered.
In a more restricted, even straitlaced age, people had internal monitors. One was discretion. It had its uses. Still does. Now we live in a less hinged age. We have unrestrained personalities with unrestrained behavior. Want to see one? Turn on your TV. Check the prose on the Web. No surprise that some people, like Client 9, hit the wall. Judgment is always the first thing to go.
Read the rest of Daniel Henninger's excellent essay on the fall of Eliot Spitzer.