Readers respond to "Mr. Virtue Craps Out," by Joan Walsh, and "The Clinton Wars," by Sidney Blumenthal.

Published May 10, 2003 9:18PM (EDT)

[Read "Mr. Virtue Craps Out," by Joan Walsh.]

Man, did I love reading Joan Walsh's wonderful piece on hyper-hypocrite Bill "Lie to My Wife" Bennett and his seven-figure gambling habit.

A junkie like that needs to be called on his crass moralizing and self-deputized, moral policing. (Is there a Gamblers Anonymous member in the house? This man needs some serious help.)

The Republicans in general have gotten away with hypocrisy like this for far too long. Finally, these sleazebags are being held accountable for their bile-spewing scapegoating and hatemongering. (Everybody knows bullies don't stop bullying until they meet resistance from the bullied.)

Ms. Walsh's outstanding piece on the matter said it all -- wittily, powerfully and decisively. I loved it!

It is the kick-ass writing and unflinching integrity that Ms. Walsh's piece demonstrates that keeps me coming back to Salon.com for more and more. Thank you, from a yearly subscriber!

-- Tom Wright

It's 12:25 a.m., I'm on my second martini, and I think back to my father: a union man, a worker, one of millions who helped build this country. A man who enjoyed life, who worked hard, who sacrificed, and who enjoyed his bourbon. The man who taught me to question authority, to see through the phoniness of conservatism and to appreciate the greatness of the American working class.

When I hear these phony conservative neo-Nazis like Bennett scolding the American people, again I think of my father, and millions more like him -- derisively called "liberals" or the "left" by the phony hypocrites of the right.

These phonies may be loyal to the flag, but they are clearly against the American people. The rich always see reforming the poor as the solution to all social problems. As for the right: "There ain't no goin' back when your foot of pride come down. Ain't no goin' back."

Thank you for your article, Ms. Walsh. It was excellent.

-- James Curry

You say that the morality cops should stop scolding everyone else about their guilty pleasures. Well, who are you to deny the morality cops the guilty pleasure of scolding all of the rest of us?

-- Nathan Pemberton

What a joy when another pompous, Republican hypocrite bites the dust! Anytime these freaky perverts start their moralizing, the first thing you want to do is check your hip pocket to see if your wallet is still there.

I've maintained for years that the silly, gluttonous, finger-wagging, Bully Boy Bennett was hiding some foul secret. I doubt that gambling is his only serious vice and I look forward to when the other shoe drops.

When you look at the leadership of the Republican right, all you can see is a vast conglomerate of vicious, hypocritical slimebags.

Deep down, Americans know this and that is why the harder these slugs hit Clinton, the higher his approval ratings climbed. The Democrats should put some good detectives on their trail; with any luck, the whole lot of them would be doing time and be out of our hair.

-- Rex Meade

While Bill Bennett's big-city, sophisticated conservative friends are tying themselves in knots defending Bill's gambling habit, small-town Christian conservatives are conspicuously silent.

Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson and company aren't going to defend gambling -- but attacking Bill would violate the 11th commandment: "Speak no evil of a fellow Republican." Don't feel too bad, Bill. You've done the impossible. You've made Jerry Falwell shut up.

-- John Mize

Perhaps as a supposedly committed Christian, Bennett should have asked himself, "What would Jesus do?" If he did, the answer appears to have been, "Hit on 16, stand on 17."

-- Ray Bouchard

This country was shamed by a media aiming for gutter level and hungry for the details of former President Clinton's sex life. With that as our premise, Ms. Walsh, what are you doing poking around in Mr. Bennett's private financial affairs?

The only reason for your story is to say: "Gotcha, right-wing Virtue Boy!"

Is it hypocritical for Bennett to not practice what he preaches? Yes. Do we need you to write a whole article about this contradiction? Not those of us with reasoning skills beyond the level of a border collie on crack.

It seems to me that Bennett is not the only one to fail in practicing what he preaches.

-- Scott Opie

President Bush urges federal subsidies for religious (i.e., fundamentalist Christian) charities while William Bennett gambles away $8 million.

Here's an idea: What if Bennett had given that $8 million to a religious charity instead? What if all the obscenely wealthy Republican moralists took just a few million off the top -- the amount Bush grants them in his next big tax cut, perhaps -- and gave it to, say, Habitat for Humanity or the March of Dimes or even the Church of the Small Hateful Minority Who Will Get Into Heaven?

Then I might believe their claims of compassionate conservatism. Blowing $8 million and shrugging it off as less than "milk money" while most Americans struggle is neither compassionate nor conservative. It's downright immoral.

-- Terri McIntosh

I agree with Joan Walsh in wondering what has happened to the "Libertarian wing" of the Republican Party. What's happened to the less-government party? It's become as elusive as the heart of the Democratic Party. Heck, I'd vote for a true Republican candidate before any of the present possible Democratic candidates. Is there anyone out there who can right the course of American politics?

-- Deborah Keller

[Read "'The Clinton Wars,'" by Sidney Blumenthal.]

God, I had forgotten what it felt like -- all that lunatic hatred, that self-righteous demagoguery. And now the right-wing hate-mongers are running the country, a gang of contemptuous bullies who happen to have history's most powerful military as their plaything.

The United States has lost its way.

-- Geoff Simmons

The unusual hatred surrounding Bill Clinton should have been our omen of the sickness that was set to grip the nation after the 2000 election. We didn't see it coming; we didn't see how far from our ideals America had fallen. We don't even see our sick obsession, fear, and confusion with sex now.

Our tendency, as people, to cloak our human sins by smearing others and believing their sins are somehow worse than ours seems to have the same effect as a confession. If we can loathe someone else for their frailties, we never have to look at our own.

William Bennett is a prime example of this kind of thinking. Somehow, and with the help of the media, we have come to believe that no matter what happens in Washington, no matter what lies are told, no matter the fraud, no matter who is hurt by recent political policies, even no matter that there are no WMDs, nothing is as "evil" as sex in the Oval Office.

The "dark period" in history into which the U.S. has fallen is not because of homosexuality, divorced couples, sexual scandals, or even drugs, as these things are only symptoms of the greater "moral decay" of self-righteousness, hatred, fear and our own self-loathing. Bill and Hillary Clinton were just "fresh meat" for the soul-searing hatred some in this country seem to possess.

"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Not since the McCarthy hearings has that statement been more true. I would like to answer a question put to Mr. McCarthy, "Have you no shame, Senator, have you finally no shame?" At long last in this country, we have no shame over what we do or say or hurt or destroy.

-- Sally McDonald

By Salon Staff

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