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Misanthropic Warming

From the Scrapbook

Oct 18, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 05 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Hail the Redeemer

Well that didn’t take long: In March 2008, then-governor of New York Eliot Spitzer was finished. Ruined by a prostitution scandal, he stepped down in disgrace. Flash-forward to the present: Private citizen Eliot Spitzer is now a CNN commentator with his own show, Parker Spitzer, cohosted by sometimes conservative columnist Kathleen Parker.

The former governor, having laid low for two years, is clearly on the road to redemption. But in order to attain full absolution, Spitzer needed to make one more stop—a gut-wrenching, soul-searching, no-holds-barred interview, the likes of which we haven’t seen since David Frost interviewed Richard Nixon. Except this time the grill session was with David Gergen.

“You Learn More by Losing Than by Winning” is the enlightening title of Gergen’s hard-hitting column recently published in Parade magazine. In it, Spitzer opens up like he’s never opened up before. When Gergen asks how he’d like to be remembered, the man once known as Client No. 9 replies, “For trying with enormous passion to influence the course of the state and the nation toward a society that is progressive, based on opportunity, equality, fairness, and decency.” Yes, decency.

“Are you at peace now?” asks Gergen. (Excellent question.) “One never leaves behind the pain that one has caused to loved ones. Somewhere further down is the cost to career.” (What cost him his career was definitely something further down.) Has being in exile done him any good? (Warning: The following response may induce nausea.) “You learn more by losing than by winning. .  .  . It’s a cliché, but the moments that really matter are the ones with the kids.”

Then Gergen starts to drill the governor with questions like, “Have the last few years made you humbler, more forgiving?” Take a wild guess. “What do you say to Americans who have been watching failures in the corporate world and in politics?” our intrepid interviewer wonders. 

“Our plutocracy has failed .  .  . ” We’ll spare you the rest of that answer. “How do we find our way back?” Gergen also wonders, as well as, “There must be things you wanted to do as governor.” Spitzer demurs, but goes on to tell us what he would have done as attorney general. (The answer is, lots.)

Finally, Gergen observes, “Martin Luther King Jr. biographer Taylor Branch once told me .  .  . ” Unfortunately, at that point The Scrapbook started having the dry heaves and had to discontinue reading.

Noise Pollution

The small community of Vinalhaven Island, Maine, is in an uproar about noise pollution—from the three giant wind turbines that were installed last year on the island as part of a $15 million wind energy facility. The New York Times reports that “the whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades” is making life unbearably noisy for those who live on the otherwise tranquil island. Though studies have shown that many of the rumored side effects of wind turbines are exaggerated or untrue—from physiological impacts like rapid heart beat and vision problems to lower property values near wind energy facilities—the folks in Vinalhaven and in other previously peaceful communities around the country have found that the noise pollution is worse than the old-fashioned pollution they were trying to fix. The Scrapbook understands that local birds are also not fans of the giant blades.

In related environmental news, The Scrapbook was relieved to hear that Frito-Lay has announced the return of their quieter, non-Earth-friendly SunChips bags after receiving complaints that their 100 percent compostable bag made from plant materials was just too noisy. USA Today reports that the company is continuing its “journey with compostable packaging,” according to Frito-Lay spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez. But for now, the environmentally conscious crowd will have to learn to keep it down, while the rest of us quietly munch our not-so-green Harvest Cheddar chips in peace.

Only Six?

‘Six People Report Feeling Ill at Obama Rally” ( headline, October 7).

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