The question just begs to be asked.
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
Well, yeah, I suppose so. I mean, who among us hasn't done something _ in my case, probably lots of things _ that if it got out wouldn't result in an accusatory correspondent from "60 Minutes" tapping on the front door?
I don't so much mind people in public life misbehaving. What gets me is that after they're caught and disgraced, they don't have the decency to slink off, never to be heard from again.
"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
So said Shakespeare's King Claudius in "Hamlet," knowing that his prayers are phony and he's not the least bit remorseful about bumping off his brother.
Pretty smart fellow, that Shakespeare. Apparently it was as true in the 16th and 17th centuries as now that prominent people aren't so much sorry about what they did as they are sorry about getting caught doing it.
Another pretty smart fellow who could write a little bit, F. Scott Fitzgerald, said "There are no second acts in American lives."
But Mr. Fitzgerald had it all wrong.
How do we know?
Well, for one thing, Eliot Spitzer has his own TV show on CNN.
As New York governor, Spitzer promised that ethics and integrity would be the hallmarks of his administration. Then, having prosecuted several prostitution rings while state attorney general, he spent about $80,000 on sex with prostitutes and tried to cover up the bank machinations that paid for his trysts.
But there he is on our television screens, a Lazarus brought back to public life by a media culture that doesn't seem to know the difference between fame and notoriety.
Being famous is generally good. Being notorious is bad ... or is it?
Spitzer's revival was quick. So, for that matter was David Vitter's. Vitter, a Louisiana senator who called for Bill Clinton's resignation after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, admitted being a regular client at a house of prostitution in 2007. He got re-elected in 2010.
Recent history has proven that no matter what you do to shame yourself, if you wait around just a little bit, today's society will cut you all the slack you need.
Clinton is a good example. So was Richard Nixon, who years after being forced to resign the presidency for the Watergate cover-up, became a respected authority on foreign policy.
James Traficant was a congressman from Ohio who served seven years in prison for taking bribes, racketeering, filing false tax returns and making his assistants do work on his home and houseboat. After serving his time, Traficant got a radio talk show in Cleveland, then had the gall to run _ and lose _ in a race for his old House seat.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich was so corrupt that he was removed from office in an overwhelming vote by the Illinois legislature and prohibited from ever again holding public office in the state.
The last time we saw "Blago," he was appearing on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" show.
G. Gordon Liddy was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the Watergate break-in, and was pardoned four years later by Jimmy Carter. Liddy, who twice advised listeners on the best way to kill Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms personnel, has a radio show syndicated in 160 markets and has been a guest panelist for Fox News Channel.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is making a lot of noise about running for president. Newt's first wife said he bugged her about a divorce while she was recovering in a hospital bed from cancer surgery. He denied that but did not dispute that he was having an affair with a woman he later married.
He was cheating on that wife in the mid-1990s with Callista Bisek, a staffer 23 years younger than he was, when he was leading the GOP probe into charging Clinton with perjury about his affairs. Newt married Bisek, and said recently that his love for America was what drove him to his cheating ways.
The list of shameless disgraced politicians goes on and on and on, from John Edwards to William Jefferson to Oliver North to John Ensign to Larry Craig, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
Infidelities, corruption and avarice we can perhaps understand, and maybe even forgive. But it sure would be nice if all those guys would at least pretend to be ashamed of themselves.
"O shame," said Shakespeare's Hamlet, "where is thy blush?"
Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 607-432-1000, ext. 208.
The question just begs to be asked.
- Sam Pollak
Religion should be a comfort, not a weapon
Discuss politics or religion in any establishment that specializes in dispensing alcohol, and -- proprietors warn -- the discussion is highly likely to result in you waking up on the tavern floor and spitting out teeth, probably your own.
The world must think we're nuts
Full disclosure here: I have not surveyed the views of every one of the nearly 7 billion people on Earth who do not live in the United States. Still I feel on solid ground when I submit that the rest of the world must surely believe that Americans are crazy.
Mistakes easy to take ... if they're not yours
Every newspaper editor I know has the same philosophy about ghastly mistakes.
Celebrate 2013 with the annual 'Sammy Awards'
OK, now I'm good and angry. After eight years of pounding the keys until my fingerprints wear off while producing my coveted Sammy Awards, I discover that something called Security Sales and Integration (SSI) Magazine is attempting to horn in on my good name with its own Sammy Awards.
The feds still aren't coming for your guns
"Tuck this column you wrote away in your scrapbook ... it will one day prove to be a source of great embarrassment for you."
- Saturday, November 16, 2013
50 years can't fade a day to remember
For the record -- and to ease the burden of research for my future biographers -- I was eating a tuna fish sandwich … on white bread … with lettuce and mayo.
- Saturday, October 26, 2013
Getting robbed of my untapped potential
This …. well … could have happened.
- Saturday, October 5, 2013
Here's what I've learned about the next generation
"I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. ... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly (disrespectful) and impatient of restraint."
- Saturday, September 14, 2013
I blame the liberals for America's mess
I blame the liberals.
- Saturday, August 24, 2013
Treat A-Rod like a player, not a gladiator
Compared with -- say -- the practices of ancient Rome, the penalties for failure of character or performance on today's athletic fields could be considered rather mild.
- Saturday, August 3, 2013
Americans need a vacation from gridlock
Exhausted from a nonstop regimen of doing nothing, members of Congress -- the best politicians money can buy -- are badly in need of a vacation.
- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Success in politics is just scandalous
After a professional lifetime of chronicling the feats and foibles of politicians, I got to wondering what it might be like to become one.
- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Reflections of a really lousy movie date
All those girls who turned me down when I was single and asked them if they'd like to go to a movie with me don't know how fortunate they were.
- Saturday, June 1, 2013
Justice Dept., IRS abuses worth screaming about
"If this had happened while a Republican was president, the liberal media would be screaming."
- Monday, May 20, 2013
THIS WEEK'S POLL
- Saturday, May 11, 2013
Using time off in the worst way possible
"You don't mean it," I pleaded. "You simply can't mean it!"
- Saturday, April 20, 2013
Terror lives on, and there's no end in sight
The horrific scenes out of Boston on Monday will be hard, if not impossible, to forget, unless, of course, it happens again ... and again ... and again.
- Saturday, March 30, 2013
Remembering the glory of their times
So, last Sunday, instead of writing The Great American Novel like I ought to be, I'm idly looking in my usual dumb fashion at a television screen.
- Saturday, March 9, 2013
Column on guns led to a barrage of (mostly) jeers
You know, I'm beginning to suspect that perhaps there was not universal agreement regarding what I authored in this space three weeks ago.
- Saturday, February 16, 2013
No one is coming to take your guns
I have some disappointing news for some of the more-virulent foes of sane gun-control legislation.
- Religion should be a comfort, not a weapon