The Weekly Standard‘s Jonathan Last agrees with me on Bill Bennett’s Gambling “Problem”:

Expect the mainstream press to jump on this tomorrow and similar guffawing and sniggering from Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert, et al. to follow by no later than Tuesday morning.

I don’t understand what the big deal is. The news that Bennett gambles big-time isn’t new. In 1996 Margaret Carlson reported that Bennett won $60,000 in a single outing in Las Vegas. Of course being old news wouldn’t matter if it was a serious charge. But legal gambling is, well, legal.

One is tempted to argue that Bennett’s gambling is a legal, common, private activity. But that shouldn’t necessarily protect him. If Bennett was cheating on his wife (which is also legal, common, and private) it would be a serious charge, but that’s because it involves the breaking of trust and willingness to hurt others. On the scale of legal, common, private activities, gambling is much closer to smoking than adultery. Would the world shudder if it turned out that Bennett was a two-pack-a-day man?

Indeed, I’d contend that would be worse. There is at least evidence that smoking is harmful. Judging by Bennett’s appearance, he’s not missing any meals. I suspect his family isn’t either.

Here’s a link to the Washington Monthly version of the story referenced in Last’s piece. I must admit, “The Bookie of Virtue” is a clever title, even if Bennett wasn’t actually taking bets but rather making them.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. 42nd SSD says:

    I’ve always been a bit waffly on gambling. While on the one hand I pretty much want to give people a free hand to do whatever they want, on the other… it is gambling after all, and from a societal standpoint we don’t want to encourage people to throw their money away, especially when some of them simply can’t afford it. I find state lotteries especially loathsome because they prey on people who really should be trying to get out of debt instead of buying lottery tickets. Even worse it’s a state-sponsored activity, giving it more legitimacy than it deserves.

  2. Dan says:

    The evangelical wing doesn’t see gambling as a good thing, a time of ‘virtue’. And 8 million is a goodly chunk that could have been invested in mission work at best or transitional housing for the poor at worst.

    Why is it that the liberal Democrats get slimed for their sins, but Newts can dump a wife and kids when she has cancer and Rush can have 3 marriages and all looks fine. This is a breach of “what I say is what I do”. time for everyone to realize that everyones manure stinks, not just the other person’s.

    I am an evangelical, but not of the right wing king. I have virtues and try to live my Christian faith. Bob Bennett wants to drink from both troughs. Hmmm. Can’t have your cake and eat it too????