Anything Goes for Well-Known Wrongdoers

December 2, 2010

in Shameless

Please tell me how Tom Delay, Rod Blagojevich and Eliot Spitzer have been able to achieve “star” or “celebrity” status.  They broke laws, disgraced their public offices — and two of them may serve jail time.

The former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, so feared in Congress that he was called “The Hammer,” was recently convicted of laundering money to influence Texas elections.  The Republican politician faces a sentence, which could put him behind bars for decades.  Yet, while under indictment, he was chosen to be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.”  What?  Who thought that was a good idea?  He couldn’t dance; he was not what most people would consider a “star;” and he was facing prison for a serious crime.

Well, poor old Tom didn’t last on the show.  He developed stress fractures in both feet and couldn’t dance anymore.  Now he’s a convicted felon, appealing the guilty verdict.

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was booted from office by the State Legislature after the federal government charged him with corruption, trying to sell President Obama’s open US Senate seat for personal financial gain, and lying to FBI agents — 23 counts in all — of official wrongdoing.  They had tapes of him engaged in illegal activities.   Mr. Blagojevich was arrested and got out on bail.  While awaiting trial he popped up on talk shows across the TV spectrum.  Even the ladies of “The View” couldn’t resist tousling his helmet of dark brown hair.  Because of some conflict, he couldn’t be on the so-called reality show called, “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.”  So his wife, Patti, took his place and finished fourth in the competition.

Next thing you know, Blagojevich is on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”  Who deemed him a celebrity?  Trump fired him midway through the show’s season for not contributing much to his team, but “The Donald” said he still likes “Blago.”

Last August, the ex-governor was found guilty on one count of lying to the FBI and faces re-trial next April on the 23 remaining counts.  But that didn’t stop Wonderful Pistachios from signing a deal with him.  If you watched the World Series or “Law and Order SVU” you might have seen a commercial, which showed Blagojevich accepting a suspicious-looking briefcase. He opens it and pours out hundreds of pistachios, one of which he cracked and ate.  The catch line?  “He does it innocently.” Doesn’t make me want to buy Wonderful Pistachios.

Dallying with prostitutes, while a married man, can lead to your own prime-time talk show.  Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is now a TV star, co-hosting “Parker Spitzer” on CNN with Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist.

The then 49-year-old Democratic governor was caught patronizing prostitutes.  Investigators had irrefutable evidence that he contacted the Emperor Club VIP prostitution ring and made a “date” to meet at a Washington, DC, hotel, a 22-year-old petite brunette, called “Kristen.”  After three hours of her services, he paid her $4300 in cash.

Investigators said that while he was New York Attorney General—the state’s highest law enforcement officer—and while governor, Spitzer spent as much as $80,000 on prostitutes.

When the New York legislature started to talk impeachment, a disgraced Spitzer resigned his vaunted post as Governor.   After embarrassing his wife, his family, and his state, it was not long before he started showing up as a commentator on cable news shows.  CNN then gave him his own show.  Why, CNN?

Bristol Palin’s only claim to fame is being an unwed mother and the daughter of Sarah Palin.  Yet, “Dancing with the Stars” had no qualms about calling her a “star” and making her a contestant.  At one time, having a baby out of wedlock was not even discussed in “polite company.”  Some called it immoral.  And isn’t her Baby’s Daddy, Levi Johnston, thinking about running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a post his baby’s grandmother once held?  He didn’t finish high school, but because he’s a “celebrity” now, he believes he’s qualified to run for public office.

I don’t know who’s to blame for making questionable characters marketable.  The American people who want to watch them or the companies, which pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars to work for them.

They say the American people are a forgiving people.  It would seem so. But I am reminded of the Army-McCarthy Hearings of 1954, chaired by rabid anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy.  During the hearings an attorney, Joseph Welch, asked the Senator these now famous words:  “Have you no shame, sir.  At long last, have you no shame?”

Too many people in America would have to answer, they do not.

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