The usually silver-tongued Eliot Spitzer, political hero of last month's Inside Job and now ubiquitous media personality, stammers and hesitates when asked to explain the psychosexual motivations behind his spectacular flameout in Alex Gibney's gripping Client 9.
Spitzer, whose tireless efforts to redeem himself led to his cooperation in this documentary, receives an entirely sympathetic — and thoroughly researched — treatment from Gibney, who makes a persuasive case that the former governor may have been brought down not just by his penis but by his deep-pocketed enemies: GOP operatives and titans of industry whom Spitzer went after during his tenure as New York's attorney general from 1999 to 2006.
Did the Sheriff of Wall Street's bad judgment — and hypocrisy — result from extraordinary hubris or a willful need for self-destruction? Spitzer himself tensely offers this vague explanation: "Those are the mysteries of the human mind, I suppose, because I don't know."
But, Gibney argues, what matters more than the reasons behind Spitzer's psychological shortcomings is that his political career ended just when his stewardship was most needed. Could Spitzer have protected us from Wall Street's implosion six months after he resigned as governor? Probably not.