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Well, actually, Andrew...

Andrew Sullivan defends William Bennett today, writing that "What, I ask myself, has he conceivably done wrong? He has done nothing illegal. He has done nothing hypocritical. Only in the minds of a few religious fanatics, has he done anything immoral."

Well, you don't have to be a religious fanatic to believe that gambling is immoral. It can be well argued (and it *has* been well argued) that legalized gambling like casinos and the lottery exploits the poor. (And, if one wants to quote the big Book of Virtues, "He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he." Proverbs 14:21.)

But, as Atrios has alerted us, Bennett's erstwhile poker games with William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork are indeed illegal and punishable by up to five years in jail.

No, of course, I don't think Bennett should go to jail for playing poker with his friends. However, we should remember, that this crime is more than Kenneth Starr found on President Clinton after investigating Whitewater, Filegate, and all the rest. Bennett loved going to town on President Clinton. For what? For even less.

Sullivan wants us to respect Bennett's privacy. Bennett has done nothing *really* wrong -- we should all let it go. I cannot agree. Bennett knows better than anyone else the warning about judging others yest ye be judged.


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Comments (10)


Of course gambling doesn't "exploit" the poor -- no one is forced to participate, and the odds and payoffs are public-domain. To say that legalized gambling exploits the poor is totally elitist -- you're saying that you know how poor people should spend their money, but the poor people themselves don't. Bennett, of course, has a totally elitist attitude concerning drugs, so you could accuse him of inconsistency if not immorality.

But you forgot to mention that Bennett is being directly hypocritical: Apparently,

"Bennett is a director of Empower America...[which] opposes the proliferation of casino gambling."

(from here)


Well, you don't have to be a religious fanatic to believe that gambling is immoral.

So when did you undergo this religious conversion and start preaching about immorality? It must have been quite recent, because you did not seen to think that it was a problem for a President to have sex in the oval office with an intern, cheat on his wife and lie about it under oath.

Oh, I forgot. That was just a private matter that was nobody's business. So now why is this revelation anybody's business? Unlike what Clinton did, this was not illegal nor did it hurt anyone.

Bennett told The Washington Monthly, "I've gambled all my life, and it's never been a moral issue with me. I liked church bingo when I was growing up."

He continued, "I play fairly high stakes. I adhere to the law. I don't play the 'milk money.' I don't put my family at risk, and I don't owe anyone anything."The magazines could come up with nothing that contradicted those points.

I thought it was a basic tenet of Liberalism that a person should be able to do anything in his private life. So what give's you, a card carrying Liberal, the right to criticize someone else's life style?

Poor Partha. You still haven't gotten over Clinton's impeachment (and Gore's loss to Bush). If you want to look for a hypocrite, you don't have to look very far. Just use the nearest mirror.


Unlike what Clinton did, this was not illegal

Richard, Partha says it was illegal, and punishable by up to five years in jail. Are you disputing that claim, or is it just a slip-up? Granted, gambling is far more benign than perjury and obstruction of justice...


We are talking about different events. I was referring to Bennett's casino gambling. What Partha was referring to was the penny-ante poker game that Bennett played with some of the members of the Supreme Court. However, if you look at the reference to the DC law, you will see that as usual we have another Liberal lie. The law refers to setting up a facility for people to gamble at, not a group of people playing cards in their house.


I'll stipulate that Bennett's gambling didn't hurt anyone else, if his defenders will stipulate that there's something unseemly about a big-time gambler who's made a fortune from lecturing other people about their participation in activities that don't harm anyone but themselves. Had Bennett not been so willing to harshly judge recreational pot smokers, or those in consensual same-sex relationships, perhaps we'd treat his gambling the way we've treated Michael Jordan's. If Empower America didn't take an anti-gambling stance, perhaps we could accept his defense of his activities. Instead, he comes off as the worst kind of hypocrite, and as such he deserves the criticism coming his way.

Dave S:

Well said, JB.



Recreational (?) pot smoking is illegal.

Casino gambling is legal.

Dave S:

Richard, Bennett's arguments were moral ones, not arguments of legality.


Dave S.

And you point is? Are you arguing that morality is bad for society or simply that you don't like someone preaching about morality?

Dave S:

My point was basically JB's. If Bill Bennett is going to make a living off of criticizing other people's private, consensual, legal actions (not just pot-smoking) then I'll shed no tears for him when people make the same type of criticisms of his private choices. Whether or not I think that his gambling is immoral--and I don't--he's opened himself up to this kind of scrutiny from people who do. For what it's worth, he seems to have realized that, too.

He's argued that other people's actions are bad, not that they're illegal. Your trying to weasel out of this one by pointing to the illegality of pot-smoking misses the point (and also misses the other things that Bennett has criticized that are legal).


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