Two names I’d like never to hear again: Herman Cain and anyone named Kardashian. The only reason Newt doesn’t appear is because I put him on the “Never Hear Again” list about 1996. Along with someone named Lewinsky. For some of the same reasons.

There is nothing more to say about the Cain demise. Except it came at the end of a farcical road show that never should have been. But watching his longtime paramour Ginger White on the telly a few evenings ago, I do have some thoughts about her. Very few.

The interviewer was Lawrence O’Donnell. While I give Mr. O’D great credit for his years as a U.S. Senate budget staffer and his creative participation in em>“The West Wing” – one of the finest American television series ever – the man is no reporter and a very poor interviewer. Which is where Ginger White comes in.

O’Donnell has an amateurish interview trait – shared by Rachel Maddow and Bill O’Reilly – of having the subject of the interview face-to-face, then saying something like “Now let me see if I understand this.” Whereupon each launches into all they know about what the interviewee is there to discuss. The know-it-all soliloquy ends with “Do I have that right?’ All the visitor can do is nod if each research staff has done its job.

Ms. White got that treatment. Why she was there to get that treatment is a matter of her poor judgement. Or maybe she’s laying groundwork for the forthcoming tell-all book. Or “reality” series. Could be.

O’Donnell’s questions – after his opening summary – never elicited details that could be helpful in understanding why this woman had a 13 year illicit relationship with a man she knew was married. After 30 minutes, you still didn’t know why. You knew it was sexual and supposedly “secret.” You knew names of several states where they met. “Secretly.” You knew she was paid a lot of cash over the years. You knew she had children at home during all this time. You knew it was just the sex with no emotional attachment (?). You got to know “stuff.”

Here are some things O’Donnell didn’t ask. Why did she get into – and then conduct – this relationship for more than a decade? Since both participants have said she was paid, how much was she paid? How? For what? Why did she need his “financial assistance” for 13 years? Why did she sit at home waiting for the next plane tickets to a new city, then dash off unquestioningly? Was she just a private hooker?

What has she done for a living? What are her other sources of income? Was she married at any time during those years? Now? Her daughter – 20 now – was seven years old when her affair began. Her son – 18 now – was five. What did she tell them over 13 years as they grew up? What was their reaction to her tryst? How did she monitor the ethical and sexual behavior of two teens while conducting her own trans-continental sexual affair?

If we had the answers to some of the hard news questions, we certainly would know more of her as a real person, might have a better understanding of both participants, might have less salacious gossip but certainly more factual information. But O’Donnell didn’t ask. And she didn’t say. So we are left only with the salaciousness, a few sordid details and some very low opinions of both participants. But little real information.

If you’re saying to yourself “I don’t need to know any more information” we’re on the same page. But if our political system continues to allow the Cains, Gingrichs, Trumps, Santorums, Bachmanns, Perrys and their ilk to seriously be considered ethically and morally fit to be President of these United States, monopolize our attention for months and months, spend hundreds of millions of other people’s dollars which enrich only advertising outlets, then we have a broken electoral system. Worse, we have an electorate going to the polls no more intellectually prepared to cast an informed vote than if each had a subscription to The National Inquirer.

We have become a “celebrity seeking” nation. Bad people who have done bad – even criminal – things sign book and movie deals. Names like Lohan, Spears, Abramoff, Blagojevich, Madoff and others who are electronically and relentlessly crammed into our consciousness, perverting our sense of right and wrong. It used to be unethical or criminal people left the public stage in disgrace and defeat. Now they get rich and continue their lives as part of our culture.

Our national political discussion is currently being framed by people who shouldn’t be seriously considered for any office – much less our presidency. All the expensive Cain misery has given us is one less.

2 Responses to “Misplaced celebrity is replacing good political judgement”

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