Today we launch the Hypocrites Hall of Infamy™. The first inductee into this auspicious realm of immortality is: William J. Bennett.
WHO IS WILLIAM “BILL” J. BENNETT?
Bill Bennett is currently the host of his own morning radio talk show. His website features a photograph of Gary Bauer, leader of a Washington DC lobbying organization known as “American Values.” Bauer’s group is most famous for its persecution of lesbians and gay men and opposing women’s right to bodily autonomy. Bennett’s website also features a photograph of Bill Kristol, a neo-conservative responsible for the fiasco in Iraq. Bennett might not pal around with terrorists, depending on one’s definition of the word, but with friends like Bauer, Kristol and a host of others, he’s associated himself with purveyors of hatred, stupidity, arrogance and discrimination.
For some mystifying reason, Bennett also appears on CNN. A lot. His interview this past Wednesday prompted his induction into the Hypocrites Hall of Infamy™. More details on that at the bottom.
HOW HAS BENNETT ENTERED THE POLITICAL ARENA?
In Republican administrations, Bennett has been chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Secretary of Education and ”drug czar. Considering the state of America’s educational system and the success of the “war on drugs,” Bennett’s record of accomplishments speaks for itself. Given his views on cultural issues you can imagine that his tenure as chair of the NEH was not warmly received by the arts community.
Bennett has authored several books. When I was in the Marines, Bennett’s Book of Virtueswas on the Commandant’s reading list, one I never got around to reading. Sun Tzu’sThe Art of Warand Clausewitz’ On War seemed more germane to my mission. (If you feel the need to buy Bennett’s book please click the link above as I’ll receive a small referral fee from Amazon at no additional cost to you!)
In his book, Bennett has collected previous writings in an attempt to impart to people his ”catalog of virtues–self-discipline, compassion, work, responsibility, friendship, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, faith” that he believes are foundational to strong moral character.
WHAT MAKES BENNETT WORTHY OF NOMINATION INTO THE HYPOCRITES HALL OF INFAMY™?
As a devout Catholic, Bennett should be aware of the words of Jesus Christ:
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
Jesus spent far more of his life condemning the sin of hypocrisy than he did any other vice, a fact that seems lost on most of the Christianist sectarians, including Bennett.
What makes Bennett such a hypocrite is his lifelong record of condemning America’s so-called decline in moral values. He’s a vocal opponent of marriage equality for lesbians and gay men. To paraphrase Jesus, he should get his head out of his ass and take stock of his own decline in moral values first. If he did, he’d be so busy taking personal inventory he wouldn’t have time to disseminate his self-righteousness across the airwaves.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS
Because Bennett is Catholic, a good barometer of his hypocrisy is Pope Gregory I’s “Seven Deadly Sins“:
1. Lust - all men are guilty of this sin. Bill Bennett is a man. Bill Bennett is guilty of lust.
FOOD: This sin is my favorite when it comes to hypocrisy. Growing up in South Carolina, I was taught that sin is sin and that God views all sins as equally bad. But when it comes to Baptists in the South, gluttons seem to get a pass. Almost every sermon against homosexuality or promiscuity or against any of the six other deadly sins was given by a man obviously exceedingly guilty of this sin.
You can bet Bennett glosses over this verse when he gets to Proverbs 23:2:
“And put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite.”
CIGARETTE SMOKING: Maybe it’s a stretch, but addictions seem like a form of gluttony. Even if smoking couldn’t be counted as gluttony, Bennett is still a hypocrite on this issue. Even though it’s legal, nicotine is still a drug. As drug czar, Bennett made a big deal about pot, calling marijuana immoral and opposing any effort to legalize it WHEN HE HAD A 2-PACK-A-DAY SMOKING HABIT. HYPOCRITE!
3. Greed -this sin merits some discussion. Bennett is a high-roller who’s lost millions of dollars in Las Vegas. He justifies this behavior by claiming that he doesn’t have a problem and that his bills are paid. In addiction treatment, many in recovery claim that they were functioning alcoholics or addicts but their lives still became unmanageable. They lived in denial, just like Bennett does today. Although he said he no longer gambled, later he qualified this statement, saying he refrained from excessive gambling, a fine distinction.
- HYPOCRISY ALERT: As co-founder and former head of Empower America, Bennett opposed the extension of casino gambling. Apart from gambling, Bennett manifests his greed by turning haughtiness, condescension and judgmentalism into a self-enrichment scheme
4. Sloth - In all fairness, I’ll cut Bennett some slack on this one. While I’m tempted to say that someone this fat has to sit on his lard ass all day, I can’t. Knowing how hard it is to write, publish and promote a book, this guy is not slothful. Also he does a show at 6:00 every morning, so he’s disciplined enough to get up early. I’m not saying that a lack of slothfulness is a virtue – many tyrants and evildoers have been industrious – but I can’t in good conscience assert that Bill Bennett sins this way. So far he’s 3 for 4.
5. Wrath – Only an angry man would make the following statement:
I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.
That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do.
Stupidly, he returns to the reprehensible notion he just put forward:
But your crime rate would go down.
Even if these statements aren’t evidence of the deadly sin of wrath, they are repugnant and should be included somewhere, so this spot will be sufficient.
6. Envy – This sin is difficult to prove by direct evidence, at least in Bennett’s case. But Bennett is a man of ambitions. You can bet (assuming that, like Bennett, you’re a gambler) your sweet ass that Bennett is enraged that Barack Obama is about to become President of the United States and he never will. You know he is. But because I can’t get into the mind of Bennett (nor would I want to) I’ll give him a pass on envy…for now. The tally so far? Bennett is 4-1-1 on the deadly sins.
7. Pride – The best for last, and by far the easiest to prove. In his biography Bennett describes himself as:
- “One of America’s most important, influential and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues.”
- “One of the nation’s most prominent political figures.”
- “Perceived — even by his adversaries — as a man of strong, reasoned convictions who spoke candidly, eloquently, and honestly about some of the most important issues of our time.”
- “Thanks to his writings and speeches, William Bennett has extraordinary influence on America’s political and social landscape.”
Final score: Bill Bennett is guilty of five of the seven deadly sins (and probably a sixth).
(Notice what is not one of the seven deadly sins. Got the answer? That’s right! Homosexuality!)
There’s one more sin that’s not listed here, but it’s something we all learned as soon as we were old enough to deny sticking our hands in the cookie jar.
THOU SHALT NOT LIE!
KIRAN CHETRY: Do you believe that Sarah Palin is ready to be president?
Bennett can’t possibly believe that Palin is ready to sit in the oval office. If she submitted her paltry resume to him he wouldn’t select her to be an intern at his radio show, despite her degree in sports journalism (from the University of Idaho after five colleges). Sarah Palin’s lack of readiness to be president is a matter of fact, not opinion. Her nomination is a fraud and prank perpetrated against the American people.
Palin is a proudly ignorant, cowardly, secretive, unethical, know-nothing populist.
She won’t give a press conference or even allow her supporters to talk to the press at her rallies, she won’t release records and she’s been found guilty of an ethics violation in Alaska.
In the same interview, Bennett also said, “I am much happier with the prospect of Sarah Palin as president than I am Barack Obama as president.” If that’s true, Bill Bennett is guilty of another sin: treason.