Greetings, Friends, and welcome to an interrogative day here at The Corner. Today I am puzzling over the predilection a large number of Americans have for looking at politicians and/or celebrities as role models. Maybe it's because I still have some deep seated resentment toward Richard Nixon because weeks of my after school television watching were disrupted in 1973. When you see the President of the United States of America hauled before the Congress when you are nine years old, that tends to set the subliminal stage for your views of politicians henceforth. To the best of my knowledge, the only 'good' man we've had in office in my lifetime was Jimmy Carter, and while I sincerely respect and admire him as one of the greatest humanitarians in American history, he was also one of our worst presidents. And many, if not most, of our best presidents were horn dogs and scumbags. But that goes with the job, doesn't it? Power is the greatest aphrodisiac, they say, and the political world is one of back scratching(and stabbing), blow-jobbing(both figurative and literal), and hand washing. The phrase 'plausible deniability' came about during the reign of that God of Conservatives, Ronald Regan, and the undisputed champ of modern presidents, JFK, made Hugh Heffner look like Ghandi.
As for sports stars, the blinders have been on about them for decades. For some reason people venerate the athlete as if having some sort of physical skill automatically makes you a good person. Babe Ruth was an overweight, womanizing alcoholic with possible ties to the mob, but he is most remembered for hitting a small sphere farther than anyone else at the time. Even today, years after his foibles became public knowledge, his name is synonymous with all that is good in baseball.
And then there are the performers. Musicians have been spared the role model treatment, going instead in the opposite direction. The worse the behavior the more they are adored. But actors are a whole different story. Many of you reading this already know what I am going to say, but for those of you outside the theatrical world allow me to pull back the curtain just a bit. While there are many, many very nice, sane actors, there are many more who really should not be allowed out of the house unsupervised. People freaked when Tom Cruise lost it on Oprah...not me. For some reason the talent gene is all too often attached to the batshit crazy gene. Again, there are very notable exceptions to this, but in general successful actors are narcissistic, egocentrical need machines whose addiction to attention is only matched by their ruthless dedication to success at all costs. But that is not a criticism, that's what is needed to make it in the heartless, soul-sucking world of Show Biz. And the craziest thing about all of this is that people seem to want their entertainers to be role models, yet as soon as Daryl Hannah starts speaking out on the environment, or Bono champions helping the poor countries of the world, those very same people start decrying their heroes for getting into areas they don't belong.
I know that many people simply equate money and fame with responsibility, and there are some rich and famous people out there that should be admired, but simply having a huge bank account, and magazine cover recognition should not be an automatic reason for hero status. Real heroes don't just make movies, or pack pork into a spending bill. Real heroes demonstrate true leadership, or use their wealth to better the world, or just take a few nights off to help their kids with their homework. Actors, politicians, and musicians can all be good people, but they can, more often than not, be raging assholes looking out for only one person...themselves. Look a little closer to home for the best role models. The cop who has dedicated his life to dealing with the scum of society so you won't have to. The EMT whose willingness to risk health and sanity to save your life. The mother who worked two jobs so you could go to college. For every Jimmy Carter, or Shaquille O'Neil, there are hundreds of Barry Bonds and Dick Cheneys. Let the politicians be dirtbags; politics is a dirty business. Let the entertainers be hedonists. As long as they entertain us who cares? But don't get all shocked when a senator tuns out to be a crook, or an actor turns out to be a freak. After all, you don't fault a skunk for stinking. It's just what a skunk is.