Oh, how the mighty have fallen

So many prominent individuals have been arrested, jailed or sent to rehab it’s pathetic.

by Paul Hamilton

It’s the excesses of life, the enterprising for the little extras, the pampered perks for the privileged. If only “those people” would wake up and stop robbing the rest of us of some semblance of social order, stability and balance.

These are my thoughts when it comes to ethically challenged lawmakers, corrupt businessmen and fatally flawed musicians, singers, sports personalities and actors.

Are any of us without problems? No, of course not. But, it seems to me that there are different degrees of separation when it comes to wrongdoing and just plain ignorance and arrogance coupled with a criminal bent.

What in the world is a U.S. senator (Larry Craig, R-Idaho) doing soliciting sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom? Come on Larry, you make at least $165,000 a year and you can’t be more like your distinguished colleague David Vitter (R-La.) and at least use the phone and spring for a room? Gee, I hope nobody’s kids were in that public bathroom at the time.

But look on the bright side Larry, at least now you and former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat no less, have something in common. To use your own words during a “Meet the Press” interview during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, you stated at the time that President Clinton had been “a dirty, nasty, naughty boy.”

And now the whole world knows you admitted to being one too. No wonder they call it the old boys network.

And listen, you know you are absolutely in trouble when the attorney general of the United States gets called to testify before congressional committees investigating potential abuses of office and lying to Congress while under oath.

What kind of example does this set? What are “we the people” supposed to think about these individuals who are placed in positions of power and authority in our government?

People like former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby are supposed to be managing the interests of all Americans. It is all about the many, not the few, or the one? Doesn’t anyone catch reruns of “Star Trek” on TV Land anymore?

And what about Dennis Koslowski, the former CEO of Tyco, who is better known as the man who put the “G” in greed? Why would the head of a multibillion-dollar-per-year company find it necessary to bilk unsuspecting, honest and hardworking shareholders by misappropriating over $400 million? Is it just me, or is charging the company for his $30-million Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City and furnishing it with $6000 shower curtains and solid-gold umbrella stands just a little over the top? Not to mention illegally avoiding paying higher taxes on the multimillion-dollar paintings purchased for its walls but delivered to Tyco offices in New Jersey.

There is also the litany of pampered people in the entertainment industry. From musicians (Eddie Van Halen),

(Amy Winehouse), actors (Anna Nicole Smith), to football, basketball, hockey and baseball players who all seem to want to pattern their behavior off of Billy Bob Thornton’s character in “Bad Santa.”

It’s so terrible now that even one NBA referee has gotten in on the bad acts by betting on NBA basketball games, giving inside information to supposed organized crime gambling figures, and whatever else this Judas to the sanctity of sport has done.

I must admit the corruption and idiotic behavior related to sports personalities bothers me the most. Being an avid sports participant my entire life, I take offense when people who are involved in or associated with the premier sporting events in this country disrespect their exalted position in our society and call into question the importance many of us place on athletic abilities.

It’s not as if they have to do any of the hard stuff like teach America’s youth, fight crime or insurgents in Iraq, patch up the space shuttle, or figure out how to implement a long-overdue plan for universal heath care in this country.

Getting paid a king’s ransom to play a kid’s game ought to be enough.

Well, unfortunately, as the late John Belushi used to say on SNL, “But Noooooo!” That can’t be enough, because some of them feel the need to be able to participate in the illegal sport of dog fighting. And then when asked about it by both the Commissioner of the NFL and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, feel the need to lie, in a play to save face, and perhaps a career and hundreds of millions of dollars.

Michael Vick was the quintessential football hero – a man who was more like a god in the city of Atlanta and many other parts of this country.

He was described as “the most exciting football player in today’s National Football League.”

And for the most part, Michael Vick had the potential to enjoy all the trappings of a fantastically privileged modern American life, the life of a crowned prince of the royal house of professional sport. What in heaven’s name went wrong?

Some think he has had too much too soon, others think he had bad influences growing up, and others say he’s another example of a black male from a single-parent family with little or no home training gone wrong.

It might be a combination of all of these or maybe Vick, like so many other hugely successful athletes, just could not stand the strain of his own success.

It’s a little bit like an undercooked Devil’s Food cake that looks and smells great on the outside with all its waves of smelly goodness, but take one bite of it and it will make you want to holler and throw up both your hands in unimaginable disappointment and disgust.

Paul Hamilton welcomes your comments at [email protected]