The Corner

Re: Bill Bennett

Here’s what I think about the Bill Bennett

controversy. I don’t know him, but I’ve long admired him, and still do.

Nevertheless, most of the criticism of him over this gambling thing is just.

Except for buying the occasional lottery ticket, I’m not a gambler, but I

don’t think it’s no big deal. When video poker machines came to my Louisiana

hometown, it wasn’t long before working-class families got into trouble. The

mother of one of my schoolmates tried to kill herself after she bankrupted

the family via video poker. A relative of mine got into serious trouble with

video poker, and nearly lost her marriage. There was lots of that sort of

thing. I think gambling — to the extent that I think about it at all — is

a scourge, though not necessarily a sin. Anyway, I don’t know how a

believing Catholic, as Bennett professes to be, can justify putting millions

of dollars into the pockets of casinos, even if it never directly hurt his

family. Christians believe it a moral imperative that we be good stewards of

the resources God has given us. This is not to say that every spare farthing

has to go into the poor box, but throwing away gargantuan sums — what was

it allegedly, $8 million? — at casinos is excessive by anyone’s standards,

to say nothing of the standards of a man who has made a fortune, and a name

for himself, preaching moral rigor. Bennett’s a good man, and a fine public

servant. He’s got to take his lumps, though.

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