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In the Alabama case, a newly hired football coach is out for cavorting with a topless floozy in neighboring Florida. He was there to play at a pro-am golf tournament, and presumably was practicing his putting while she ran up a $1,000 room service tab and charged it to his hotel bill.
The Iowa State case is more troubling, if only because its 47-year-old basketball coach did his fooling around with students from a school that had just defeated his team. Isn’t it rather ignoble for a losing general to request aid and comfort from the enemy? To his credit, he was acting as perhaps less dangerous mentor to young students than many a more seriously minded professor who in my day at least felt called upon to smoke dope with his charges and then went on to become honored and eternally tenured faculty. Iowa State’s man may ultimately be done in for the simple crime of infantilism, i.e. for reminding the world that a sports coach is at heart an adolescent jock who never will grow up. Youth is fleeting when you’re nearing 50.
One thing’s for sure: the Alabama and Iowa State guys would be in much less trouble if they had learned to pursue what passes for virtue in the college sports world. The New York Times recently highlighted one such example, retired North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, whom it praised for speaking out against the death penalty. Truth be told, your more typical jock coach would worry advocating Smith’s view would weaken his team’s killer instinct.
Bill Bennett, of course, is a different kind of coach altogether, and so the trouble he’s in is of a different magnitude as well. But for all the emphasis on his Smith-like virtue side, people forget that Bennett remains an ex-all conference footballer from his days at Gonzaga High School in Washington who has never lost his competitive streak. I once saw him play a pickup game of basketball in which he moved and rebounded like someone who loved to play to win. In his public appearances he is especially good in competitive settings in which he has to take on often hostile representatives of opposing views. Against their vituperation he can come across as impressively as Colin Powell.
Success didn’t so much spoil Bennett as unrealistically alter his image. As he became best known for the Virtue books compiled under his name, his reputation changed from political sharpie to goody-goody. Anyone who knew him knew he was more interesting than that, but apparently who was he to argue with market success and public demand? Now thanks to political enemies we know more about him. Suddenly he’s in a whole new competitive situation, needing to salvage his political stature even as his synonymity with virtue becomes untenable.
That will hardly be an impossible task. Since when has conservative politics required its players to come across as straitjacketed saints?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?