I am very troubled by the Bill Bennett gambling story.
Bennett knows his Aristotle: virtue isnt limited merely to public virtue (the Clinton problem), but is primarily about ones private character. The pinnacle of virtue for Aristotle was moderation. Bennetts gambling appears highly immoderate, even for a wealthy man. (I find it hard to believe that he is wealthy enough to blow $8 million--IF that figure is accurate--without it being meaningful. But even so--it represents a squandering of wealth that could go to better purposes. Itd be different if he lost that kind of money in church bingo.)
Recall that Bennett was very exacting that Hillsdale College come clean about every fact of the Roche affair. I think we conservatives who want to defend Bennett deserve the same from him just now.
Knowing a bit about Vegas (my wife grew up there, and had an aunt who owned a mid-sized casino on Fremont Street--the old Vegas before the strip), there are some aspects of his story I find troubling and difficult to believe. He says he avoids table games because people want to talk politics with him. Bennett, not wanting to talk politics? Well, okay, maybe so, but casinos cater to high rollers, and would surely have been willing to arrange private tables or regulate the company he had to keep if he asked for it. They do this all the time, and have VIP rooms for just such people. It doesnt ring right to me. Gambling on slot machines late at night is not commensurate to Churchill working the tables at Monte Carlo in his tuxedo after dinner. (And even allowing for inflation, Churchill didnt gamble the kind of sums Bennett does.) I think it possible--even likely--that Bennett may have a problem, and I think he should come clean if he wants us to defend him vigorously.
I find interesting Bill Kristols comments to the New York Times. He said that this was a private matter between Bennett, his wife, and his accounant. One neednt be a Straussian to see that Kristol is not absolving Bennett of having a potential problem.
Yes, the left is going to jump all over this, but before we man the barricades in Bennetts defense, he needs to share the full story.