CNN announced yesterday that Eliot Spitzer's 8 p.m. talk show In The Arena was being cancelled, but the majority of last night's show didn't play like a farewell telecast. It just seemed like a reminder of all the things that made In The Arena and predecessor Parker/Spitzer sporadically compelling, but never entirely necessary. First, Alan Dershowitz was sharply critical of Cyrus Vance. Then Marcia Clark ripped the prosecution in the Casey Anthony trial for various reasons, all of which were succinctly refuted by CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Then it was time for David Gergen to talk about partisanship, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and the debt ceiling. After a brief debate with Fareed Zakaria and Columbia University history professor Simon Schama over "what the Constitution actually means," one minute remained for farewells.
Rather than praising his crew, acknowledging his former co-anchor, or thanking ex-CNN president Jon Klein for taking a shot on him, Spitzer did the next most gracious thing: he put on spectacles and read a defiant quote from Teddy Roosevelt. The video is embedded above, but Salon posted a transcription of the text:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Which raises the question: if the show had run long, would he have just boiled it down to, "You won't have Eliot Spitzer the basic cable host to kick around anymore"?