Spitzer made a somewhat perfunctory televised mea culpa, saying, "I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public, to whom I promised better... I am disappointed that I failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself."
That's just not good enough.
Spitzer, who reports allege is AKA Client 9, was captured on a federal wiretap, "confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a room," according to the New York Times, which broke the story. He was no passive victim here.
The irony here is inescapable. Spitzer made a national name for himself crusading against the evils of Wall Street. He had a knack for getting some of the biggest companies in the world including Merrill Lynch & Co. (NYSE: MER), American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) to knuckle under to his demands without having to try his case in court.
To be sure, Spitzer did a lot of good, including ending the cozy relationship between investment bankers and Wall Street analysts, but he caused a lot of collateral damage to people who maintain their innocence. These people include, as CNBC's Charles Gasparino notes, former NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso and former AIG Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg.
If he resigns, Lt. Governor David A. Paterson would assume the job. Spitzer's mortal enemy Joseph L. Bruno would get the job if Paterson doesn't want it. Democrats in Albany are no doubt encouraging Paterson to take the job.
Meanwhile, current New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is a crusader in the Spitzer mode and harbors gubernatorial aspirations. Anyone applauding Spitzer's downfall should realize that things are probably not going to change that much.