I have done many things in my life that I am ashamed of and embarrassed by. For the most part, I apologized for my unfortunate actions, took responsibility, faced the music and suffered the consequences.
Luckily, I'm not a prominent public figure nor a celebrity. Or maybe I'm unlucky, because if I were wealthy or famous and I got caught doing something bad, I'd be able to afford a team of high-priced attorneys, public relations people and something called a “crisis management team” (yes, such things apparently exist) to mitigate the negative repercussions.
So, we now come to the ugly, dreary sagas of New York City's two current biggest “news stories,” mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
As you all know very well by now, Weiner, the former Congressman, has admitted to sending naked photographs of himself and sexually explicit messages to women who were not his wife... apparently, many, many times (even after his first admission led to tearful “apologies” and his resignation from Congress). Under pressure to quit his mayoral campaign, Weiner is adamant he will not step aside, after making another bizarre public “mea culpa” (this time with his humiliated wife standing by his side offering her “support”).
As for the execrable “A-Rod," who at one time was destined to break all of Major League Baseball's meaningful offensive records, he is on the verge of a suspension that could last anywhere from two seasons to life, for lying about having taken performance-enhancing drugs (apparently many, many times).
To make matters worse, both have repeatedly denied their accusers, lied, then got caught, made phony apologies, then lied again.
Keep in mind, neither Weiner nor Rodriguez has committed any crimes that could land them in jail (as far as we know), but their actions and behavior have cast an extremely negative light on their character and integrity.
In a sense, regardless of what happens next, the lives they have enjoyed are over and they will be pariahs for the rest of their time on earth. Weiner will never become mayor of New York City, nor even elected chief dogcatcher of Poughkeepsie. Rodriguez will likely never suit up again for a big league roster, nor ever see his plaque in Cooperstown.
However, as we have learned in the television-Internet age of round-the-clock media coverage and instant celebrity, once one reaches a certain predetermined level of fame (or wealth), one doesn't really have to pay for one's offenses.
Yes, Weiner has humiliated himself and his family, but he won't starve, nor will he live on the streets. He will likely write a book about his experiences, resume his legal career and live in affluent comfort for the rest of his days. (If he follows the example of whore-monger Elliot Spitzer, he may get a high-paying TV analyst gig and even run for some other office in a few years after all this “blows over”).
As for A-Rod, well, his “humiliation” will probably be alleviated by his bank account which numbers in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Even if his current employer, the New York Yankees, can terminate his contract and void the remaining $60 million or so of his deal, he will have to “scrape by” on about $300 million (give or take the millions that he'll have to shell out in legal fees).
Also, consider the rogue's gallery of celebrity liars, cheats, phonies, hypocrites, drug addicts, adulterers, child molesters, even killers we have had to contend with in recent times: Pete Rose, Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, Newt Gingrich, Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, OJ Simpson, Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, Ryan Braun, Rafael Palmeiro, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, etc. Have any of them truly had to “face the music,” as it were? Did any of them lose their livelihood?
Yes, I know, OJ eventually went to jail, but not for decapitating his wife and murdering her friend. Rather, he was imprisoned for some amateur robbery caper in Las Vegas (karma!) years later. Rose still talks about how “great” he is and how he deserves “another chance.” Michael Jackson died from a drug overdose, not from the immense shame of (uh, “allegedly”) sexually abusing untold numbers of innocent children. Bill Clinton, who committed far worse offenses than Weiner, makes millions on the lecture circuit and is admired by many Democrat supporters as a “great man” and an “effective president.” (Bubba didn’t fool around with illusory women online; he went for the real thing!)
McGwire became the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals (the team for whom he hit 70 homers by sticking a needle in his bottom and injecting enormous amounts of steroids). Sharpton, who lied about a rape hoax involving a girl named Tawana Brawley many years ago and is allergic to paying his taxes, is now a host on MSNBC. Jesse Jackson, who doesn’t seem to have any kind of job at all, but lives like a millionaire and likes to embezzle money from corporations and bed women he’s not married to, is a leading ”civil rights spokesperson” and “moral voice of indignation.”
Gingrich, a serial adulterer and one of the most despicable humans on the planet (among other things, he divorced his first wife while she lay in a hospital bed stricken with cancer), is a frequent guest “analyst” on Fox News and has run for president a number of times.
The list goes on and on ad nauseam.
Most on the aforementioned list have claimed they were “victims” of the system and still have a surprisingly large number of defenders and apologists.
They also have no shame, no conscience and are only sorry they got caught with overwhelming evidence of their guilt.
Even more nauseating, celebs who get nailed remain ensconced in a delusionary fantasy world where they neither have to account for their guilt nor suffer any significant consequences.
I believe it was the 1920s novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald who said there are no “second acts” in America. He was dead wrong: There are seconds -- and thirds and fourths.
I can’t wait for Weiner’s upcoming job as “political analyst” on MSNBC and Rodriguez selling his autograph in a shopping mall outside Cooperstown.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.