SPITZER’S REHABILITATION CONTINUES…. A few weeks ago, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) had a very smart op-ed in the Washington Post on capitalism and the ongoing financial crisis. I suggested at the time that Spitzer has spent enough time in the penalty box, and given his background in cleaning up Wall Street and combating its excesses, Spitzer should be allowed, if not encouraged, to make a public contribution to the discourse.

I’m glad Slate agrees. Spitzer is now a regular columnist for the online magazine, appearing every other week with pieces on government, regulation, and finance.

“He’s going to be doing a regular thing,” said Jacob Weisberg, the editor-in-chief of the Slate Group. “It’ll be heavily about the financial crisis and fixing financial markets and the economy generally.” […]

“It was not an epic negotiation,” said Mr. Weisberg. “He was very receptive to the idea. I don’t portray this as something we had to coax him into. He’s got a lot to say and he was very receptive to writing on the subject.”

Spitzer, his personal scandal notwithstanding, obviously does have key insights that deserve to be taken seriously, and his first column, published last night, makes this clear. It’s a very strong, well-argued piece, making the case against using bailouts to rebuild major financial institutions.

Ben Smith, who recently suggested Spitzer might be a strong candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton in the Senate, argued yesterday that a purely intellectual approach may not be sufficient to restore Spitzer’s name. Ben said the former governor may need a few “soft-focus interviews about his personal transgressions” to help the rehabilitation along.

Perhaps, but wouldn’t it be better if Spitzer’s obvious expertise were considered by the political world on the merits? I can appreciate how sleazy his sex scandal was, but it was hardly more offensive than David Vitter’s, Newt Gingrich’s, or Rudy Giuliani’s, and they’re all prominent political figures and Republicans in good standing.

Spitzer made a humiliating personal mistake, and he’s paid a high price. Maybe, as a sign of cultural maturity, we can get past this and start taking Spitzer seriously again.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.