Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Bennett Affair

I am very troubled by the Bill Bennett gambling story.

Bennett knows his Aristotle: virtue isn’t limited merely to public virtue (the Clinton problem), but is primarily about one’s private character. The pinnacle of virtue for Aristotle was moderation. Bennett’s 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. It’d 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 doesn’t 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 didn’t 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 Kristol’s comments to the New York Times. He said that this was a private matter between Bennett, his wife, and his accounant. One needn’t 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 Bennett’s defense, he needs to share the full story.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I haven’t heard about the more public Bill Bennett’s gambling problem. But there was another Bill Bennett who helped to make Vegas what it is today.
The Link above tells his story.

"Bennett may have a problem, and I think he should come clean if he wants us to defend him vigorously."

One can hardly keep from recalling how phoney Clinton’s addmissions of guilt were... yet how the left went to bat anyway. Are we gonna be truly different, here?

A man’s soul is at stake... why not prove to the world that our words are more than mere political posturing. Why not prove to the world that true repentence can heal.

This is a critical test of those of us who held Clinton’s feet to the fire. God will not look favorably upon those who hypocritically pounded on Clinton, yet write this man a free pass without demanding a true confession.

I was pleased to see somebody else agree Bennett needs to address this news story better than he has thus far. My American Spectator column about Bennett online today has already been smacked by the weblog at But I think we’ll betray serious conservative principles if we just give Bennett a pass.

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