I agree with Mark Shea. I think the uproar about Bill Bennett’s gambling is a tempest in a teapot and it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I’ve even—horrors!—been to casinos myself and used slot machines and played blackjack. I wish I could say I made money, or even like Bill, that I had enough money that losing $8 million was no big deal. But rather I lost as much as I was willing to lose, as much as I willing to pay for the entertainment and no more. If Bennett could do the same what’s the big deal? Is it because it was so much?
I think Americans have a fixation on other people’s wealth and Catholics are not immune to it. The Democrats play this to a “T”. We think of all the wealthy fat cats and we smolder inside with indignation and jealousy that we don’t have their money, while on the outside we complain about social justice and distribution of wealth. So we let others drag high-profile rich people down by onerous taxes and whisper campaigns. But not all rich people—wealthy left-wingers like celebrities and politicians get a pass because they mouth the right pieties.
But “hypocrites” like Bill Bennett are tarred and feathered because they dare to speak of virtues while engaging in “vices.” Gee, what about that current most-terrible vice of smoking? Didn’t Chesterton smoke? And Tolkien? Even Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was pictured smoking pipes and cigars! A beati!
There is a strain of American puritanism that crosses all religious boundaries and even infects non-religious Americans and I think the Bennett situation exposes it.