Saturday, May 03, 2003

Liberal Lighthouse - Well, the expose on William J. Bennett's gambling habits is out. The story is making the rounds on the weblogs, with liberals generally gloating over Bennett's perceived hypocrisy and conservatives dismissively downplaying what must certainly be a disappointing revelation. From my point of view, the whole story is much ado about nothing. Bennett has a gambling addiction; and he refuses to square it with his own high standards of moral and virtuous conduct. Upon reflection, it's actually more sad and pathetic than outrageous. It won't and shouldn't be more than a blip in the political debate. As a liberal who thinks that Clinton's sexual foibles had nothing to do with his ability to run a government and to lead this country, and that we had no business dragging the man's sex life through the courts, I also hold that Bennett's gambling has no relevance to the political discourse of the day. Liberals should give Bennett his vices and let them speak for themselves to the people who would make his gambling habits a moral problem. It is a question of consistency of thought and of rising above the baseness of this pattern of scandalmongering that so defines the conservative agenda. It is enough to see conservatives squeamishly trying to explain away and rationalize Bennett's behavior with his rhetoric. For example, I have gotten great satisfaction seeing Kathryn Jean Lopez of The National Review claim essentially that the "immorality" of Bennett's behavior doesn't negate the value of the "morality" that he preaches - even when they are in conflict. Liberals need to take the high road and just let Conservatives beat themselves up over this.

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