The Ottumwa Courier


February 4, 2013

Oprah’s couch is waiting



Oprah’s couch is waiting for ...

Baseball's Asterisks Club                                                                           

We are littered with examples of celebrities who have fallen from grace. Baseball alone is full of them from the steroid era. So, I guess no one suspected of performance-enhanced drug use in the steroid era is getting in the Hall of Fame? Couldn’t they have an asterisks floor for the steroid era? In my opinion, it’s as much or more baseball’s fault as it is the players’ fault.   

Look the other way, then ignore an era

Baseball looked the other way wanting to bring back fans from the 1994-95, 232-day strike. The powerful players’ union wanted no salary caps and no significant drug testing. The owners wanted fans in the stands. It was a perfect storm. Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro have been effectively blacklisted from the Hall of Fame for now because of evidence, acknowledgement or suspicion. The list is long. Alex Rodriguez is under suspicion again. The explanation players give is childlike: “I don’t know how that substance got into my system!” It’s like Bill Cosby’s story on a little kid trying to explain a broken lamp.

Maybe we need some coaches’ guidance?

Who can coach us through these moral shortcomings? Let’s not speak about the unspeakable Jerry Sundusky scandal. But what about Joe Paterno, Pete Carroll or former Kansas coach Mark Mangino? Ohio State’s Jim Tressel showed us you can’t always trust a guy with a sweater vest. Woody Hayes demonstrated the the finer points of sideline etiquette. How about Mike Leach, Jim Leavett, Gary Barnett, Kelvin Sampson, Eddie Sutton, Barry Switzer, Jim Harrick, Jerry Tarkanian or Quin Snyder, just to name a few. Or closer to home, Iowa State basketball coaches Larry Eustachy and Tim Floyd or former Iowa assistant and fired Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl. Our kids need examples, but the pressures to win tend to skew the lines on what’s right and wrong.

Politicians work for us, don’t they?

Famous politicians are just as bad. Michael Medved said on his radio show that he worked in Washington, D.C., and the amount of promiscuity in that city is mind-boggling. It’s amazing they get any work done at all, and it’s all about power. Yet they’re supposed to be working for and representing us.

How did Clinton’s image rebound?

There are some celebrities who have rehabilitated themselves. Bill Clinton, designated the “Explainer in Chief,” who helped Barack Obama get re-elected, now apparently has half the country gushing again. It’s as if all of his past transgressions never happened. The other half of the country are scratching their collective heads, viewing him instead as the “Omitter in Chief.”

A political activist was talking about this to me a few weeks ago, and he said JFK probably wouldn’t have survived the 24-7 media scrutiny of today with all of his transgressions, with social media and instantaneous gossip everywhere. It’s a different world today — as our falling stars are painfully finding out.

John Edwards’ betrayal

John Edwards had a real shot at winning the Democratic nomination in 2008. It’s lucky he didn’t or this fall from grace could have been from the White House, taking the country off a steep cliff. Edwards fell like a stone when it was discovered he had been cheating with Rielle Hunter, fathering a child, while his wife, Elizabeth, was dying from cancer.

Hart’s poker face, Dean’s pep talk ...

Gary Hart dared reporters to prove he was cheating (with Donna Rice), and they took him up on it — and proved it. Howard Dean was a rant away from contending to the end. Herman Cain had a lead until some former employees claimed he’d been a little too flirtatious.

Al Gore has seen his popularity fall, being called a “carbon billionaire” after criticism of massive profits from his global warming advocacy, as well as stories in his personal life. His marriage “tipped” over. Allegations of sexual harassment by a massage therapist followed. Recently, he has been receiving heat from both the right and left on the sale of his television network for $70 million to Al-Jazeera, a controversial network to say the least. Al-Jazeera has proudly been a platform to terrorists and anti-western sentiment and is financed through oil-rich Qatar, a heightened hypocrisy to Gore’s advocacy.  

Anthony Weiner jokes were too easy after his scandal. Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford fell into a love-sick affair. Marion Barry was somehow re-elected as Washington, D.C., mayor after getting busted smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting.

Of course, let’s not forget the lessons of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Today’s stars should have learned by now — the coverup is often worse than the original crime.

Losing faith?  

There’s planty of fallen stars in religion too. Jimmy Swaggart’s 1980s telecast was transmitted to over 3,000 stations and cable systems each week. Sex scandals with prostitutes in the 1980s and early ’90s led to his tearful “I have sinned” confession. He is still seen today around the world on 78 channels in 104 countries, as well as live over the Internet.

Another televangelist, James Bakker and former wife Tammy Faye, fell from grace from The PTL Club, after a sex scandal and revelations of accounting fraud led to his prison sentence and their divorce.

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