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Old 05-03-2003, 05:26 PM   #1
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William Bennett's New Virtue

Report: William Bennett a Big Gambler
Fri May 2,11:47 PM ET

WASHINGTON - William Bennett, the former Cabinet secretary and family values campaigner, is a high-rolling gambler who has lost millions over the past decade, according to published reports.

Casino documents show Bennett is a "preferred customer" in at least four venues in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Newsweek and The Washington Monthly reported in stories posted Friday on the web. His favorite games: video poker and slot machines. He has a revolving line of credit of at least $200,000 at each casino, the magazines said.

The former drug policy director and education secretary under Republican presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush doesn't have to have money when he shows up at a casino, according to the magazines, which obtained internal casino documents.

Bennett, who wrote "The Book of Virtues," gets high-roller treatment, including limos and tens of thousands of dollars in complimentary hotel rooms and other amenities.

In one two-month period, the documents show him wiring more than $1.4 million to cover losses at one casino. In one 18-month stretch, Bennett visited a number of casinos for two or three days at a time.

Some of his losses have been substantial. According to one casino source, on July 12, 2002, Bennett lost $340,000 at Caesars in Atlantic City and on April 5 and 6 he lost more than $500,000 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Some casino estimates put his total losses over the past decade at more than $8 million.

When reached by Newsweek, Bennett acknowledged he gambles.

"Over 10 years, I'd say I've come out pretty close to even," he said. "You can roll up and down a lot in one day, as we have on many occasions. You may cycle several hundred thousand dollars in an evening and net out only a few thousand."

Efforts by the Associated Press to reach Bennett by telephone were unsuccessful.

During an 18-month period, documents show there were only a few occasions when Bennett turned in chips — worth about $30,000 or $40,000 — at the end of an evening.

"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," Bennett said. The documents didn't contradict his points.

Bennett, along with former Rep. Jack Kemp, is co-chairman of Empower America, a conservative public policy organization in Washington.

-------------------------------

It's nice to see that he gambles away his fortunes, rather than giving them to the poor. Now there's a man of God.



Melon
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Old 05-03-2003, 05:48 PM   #2
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"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
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Old 05-03-2003, 05:56 PM   #3
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I like what nbcrusader said.
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Old 05-03-2003, 06:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
I feel no sorrow for a hypocrite like William Bennett. He's cast enough stones from his self-righteous pulpit that he deserves this.

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Old 05-03-2003, 07:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I feel no sorrow for a hypocrite like William Bennett. He's cast enough stones from his self-righteous pulpit that he deserves this.

Melon
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Old 05-03-2003, 07:07 PM   #6
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Actually melon, he's not a hypocrite if he didn't preach against gambling...
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Old 05-03-2003, 07:20 PM   #7
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Originally posted by melon


I feel no sorrow for a hypocrite like William Bennett. He's cast enough stones from his self-righteous pulpit that he deserves this.

Melon
God holds those who teach to a higher standard. But all teachers stumble. Should teachers then remain silent? No.

I trust Mr. Bennett will be re-evaluating his life and how he delivers his message.
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Old 05-03-2003, 07:40 PM   #8
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Re: William Bennett's New Virtue

Quote:
Originally posted by melon
"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," Bennett said.
Why would he reevaluate what he is unrepentant for?

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Old 05-03-2003, 07:43 PM   #9
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Originally posted by 80sU2isBest
Actually melon, he's not a hypocrite if he didn't preach against gambling...
True enough, although I think that gambling his fortunes away is a far cry from anything Jesus said. For someone who tries to tell us how to be moral, not allowing for matters of conscience, for him to do something incredibly wasteful as this is sickening.

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Old 05-03-2003, 08:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon


I feel no sorrow for a hypocrite like William Bennett. He's cast enough stones from his self-righteous pulpit that he deserves this.

Melon
I don't like the guy either.
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Old 05-03-2003, 08:05 PM   #11
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I saw this in the paper this morning. I chuckled.
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Old 05-05-2003, 03:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
True enough, although I think that gambling his fortunes away is a far cry from anything Jesus said. For someone who tries to tell us how to be moral, not allowing for matters of conscience, for him to do something incredibly wasteful as this is sickening.

This may be better suited in its own thread, but is gambling a sin? As a form of entertainment, for example, how does spending $$$ gambling compare to those who spend $$$ attending professional sporting events?

I have no interest in gambling and when I am in Vegas on business, limit my gambling to pocket change.
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Old 05-05-2003, 04:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
True enough, although I think that gambling his fortunes away is a far cry from anything Jesus said. For someone who tries to tell us how to be moral, not allowing for matters of conscience, for him to do something incredibly wasteful as this is sickening.
I agree, I don't think this is a matter of, if gambling is wrong. The issue is that when one's life work is living as an example of "a man of God" and you have 1.4 million dollars of gambling losses at any given time, there are some major priority issues. How is this an example of humbleness, why isn't this money going towards a good cause instead of feeding a city that probably goes against much of what he teaches? This hippocritical makes me sick.
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Old 05-05-2003, 10:43 PM   #14
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When are members of the Right going to realize that the more loudly and harshly they try to prescribe morals for everyone else, the more closely their own are going to undergo scrutiny? No one would care about how William Bennett drops money in Vegas if he didn't go around telling other people how to be "virtuous."
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Old 05-06-2003, 12:03 PM   #15
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http://slate.msn.com/id/2082526/

Bill Bennett's Bad Bet
The bookmaker of virtues.
By Michael Kinsley
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2003, at 5:34 PM PT



Slipping into the vice slot

Sinners have long cherished the fantasy that William Bennett, the virtue magnate, might be among our number. The news over the weekend—that Bennett's $50,000 sermons and best-selling moral instruction manuals have financed a multimillion dollar gambling habit—has lit a lamp of happiness in even the darkest hearts. As the joyous word spread, crack flowed like water through inner-city streets, family court judges began handing out free divorces, children lit bonfires of The Book of Virtues, More Virtuous Virtues, Who Cheesed My Virtue?, Moral Tails: Virtue for Dogs, etc. And cynics everywhere thought, for just a moment: Maybe there is a God after all.

If there were a Pulitzer Prize for schadenfreude (joy in the suffering of others), Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and Joshua Green of the Washington Monthly would surely deserve it for bringing us this story. They are shoo-ins for the public service category in any event. Schadenfreude is an unvirtuous emotion of which we should be ashamed. Bill Bennett himself was always full of sorrow when forced to point out the moral failings of other public figures. But the flaws of his critics don't absolve Bennett of his own.


Let's also be honest that gambling would not be our first-choice vice if we were designing this fantasy-come-true from scratch. But gambling will do. It will definitely do. Bill Bennett has been exposed as a humbug artist who ought to be pelted off the public stage if he lacks the decency to slink quietly away, as he is constantly calling on others to do. Although it may be impossible for anyone famous to become permanently discredited in American culture (a Bennett-like point I agree with), Bennett clearly deserves that distinction. There are those who will try to deny it to him. They will say:

1) He never specifically criticized gambling. This, if true, doesn't show that Bennett is not a hypocrite. It just shows that he's not a complete idiot. Working his way down the list of other people's pleasures, weaknesses, and uses of American freedom, he just happened to skip over his own. How convenient. Is there some reason why his general intolerance of the standard vices does not apply to this one? None that he's ever mentioned.

Open, say, Bennett's The Broken Hearth: Reversing the Moral Collapse of the American Family, and read about how Americans overvalue "unrestricted personal liberty." How we must relearn to "enter judgments on a whole range of behaviors and attitudes." About how "wealth and luxury ... often make it harder to deny the quest for instant gratification" because "the more we attain, the more we want." How would you have guessed, last week, that Bennett would regard a man who routinely "cycle[s] several hundred thousand dollars in an evening" (his own description) sitting in an airless Las Vegas casino pumping coins into a slot machine or video game? Well, you would have guessed wrong! He thinks it's perfectly OK as long as you don't spend the family milk money.

2) His gambling never hurt anyone else. This is, of course, the classic libertarian standard of permissible behavior, and I think it's a good one. If a hypocrite is a person who says one thing and does another, the problem with Bennett is what he says—not (as far as we know) what he does. Bennett can't plead liberty now because opposing libertarianism is what his sundry crusades are all about. He wants to put marijuana smokers in jail. He wants to make it harder to get divorced. He wants more "moral criticism of homosexuality" and "declining to accept that what they do is right."

In all these cases, Bennett wants laws against or heightened social disapproval of activities that have no direct harmful effects on anyone except the participants. He argues that the activities in question are encouraging other, more harmful activities or are eroding general social norms in some vague way. Empower America, one of Bennett's several shirt-pocket mass movements, officially opposes the spread of legalized gambling, and the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, one of Bennett's cleverer PR conceits, includes "problem" gambling as a negative indicator of cultural health. So, Bennett doesn't believe that gambling is harmless. He just believes that his own gambling is harmless. But by the standards he applies to everything else, it is not harmless.

Bennett has been especially critical of libertarian sentiments coming from intellectuals and the media elite. Smoking a bit of pot may not ruin their middle-class lives, but by smoking pot, they create an atmosphere of toleration that can be disastrous for others who are not so well-grounded. The Bill Bennett who can ooze disdain over this is the same Bill Bennett who apparently thinks he has no connection to all those "problem" gamblers because he makes millions preaching virtue and they don't.

3) He's doing no harm to himself. From the information in Alter's and Green's articles, Bennett seems to be in deep denial about this. If it's true that he's lost $8 million in gambling casinos over 10 years, that surely is addictive or compulsive behavior no matter how good virtue has been to him financially. He claims to have won more than he has lost, which is virtually (that word again!) impossible playing the machines as Bennett apparently does. If he's not in denial, then he's simply lying, which is a definite non-virtue. And he's spraying smarm like the worst kind of cornered politician—telling the Washington Post, for example, that his gambling habit started with "church bingo."

Even as an innocent hobby, playing the slots is about as far as you can get from the image Bennett paints of his notion of the Good Life. Surely even a high-roller can't "cycle through" $8 million so quickly that family, church, and community don't suffer. There are preachers who can preach an ideal they don't themselves meet and even use their own weaknesses as part of the lesson. Bill Bennett has not been such a preacher. He is smug, disdainful, intolerant. He gambled on bluster, and lost.

***********************

Something interesting to contribute...

Melon
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