I propose we slightly amend Martin Niemoller’s quote about standing by in silence as injustice takes place: “Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out.” I’m not exactly sure how to revise it but maybe something like: “Because we didn’t go after them, it’s our fault they just kept coming at us.”
Case in point: Eliot Spitzer. We watched him crash and burn and fade away, but the problem is, he didn’t stay away. He re-appeared on shows like Morning Joe, and I thought: “Huh! How can he just sit there and how are we all supposed to listen to his commentary and not picture him with his pants down and his socks up?” I dismissed him but kept my disdain to myself.
And what did we get as a result of our reticence? Parker Spitzer on CNN. I can’t help but wonder about his commentary the next time a person of some renown, with a particular reputation for honor and integrity, fills the cheater/liar/scumbag role. The good news for his show is that maybe more people would tune in just to watch him squirm.
In the name of humility and everything that is respectable, please go away, Elliot. That’s my wish. [But just in case you don’t have enough Eliot in your life, check out Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, the documentary film about him, his enemies and his downfall. Dear God.]
Let’s move from the news desk to the dance floor. Look no further than Dancing with the Stars for the next affront to our communal easy-going nature: Bristol Palin. Sure, ABC assembles an eclectic group of contestants each season to attract viewers — I get that — but really? Bristol is a “star?” What did she achieve?
Once again, for the record: Bristol, for God’s sake, please just go home. Raise your child. Marry or don’t marry Levi, someone who also seems to fade from and then re-appear in the spotlight. Stop talking about abstinence and start raising your toddler.
Then again, who could blame her? Maybe she’s following in Mom’s snowshoes. Sarah Palin’s Alaska? I ask you: if this were a reasonable, marketable idea, one that will truly entertain the American viewing public, why did we never get treated to a season of Bob Dole’s Kansas? Or Lloyd Bentson’s Texas? Exactly.
All together now: Sarah, with all due respect, go away. My God, if this practice continues unchallenged, I can just about guarantee you someone somewhere will program the All Palin, All the Time channel. Todd could host an outdoor adventure show, Bristol and Levi could have their own reality show called “Generation Y-Not,” and Willow and Malia, her new BFF in Washington D.C., could portray best friends, despite the animosity their parents feel toward each other. And Sarah? She could go for a run, field dress a moose, and then decline to answer questions about her political future as she sits astride her snowmobile.
We have crossed a line somewhere; a line that used to indicate gravitas, dignity and knowing when to fade away offstage. In the not-so-distant past, people of some renown had the sense to take a final bow when the time was right, whether bathed in glory or shame, and exit our collective consciousness. If that weren’t the case, we would have been treated to a reality show about addictions featuring Betty Ford; a brew-your-own-beer, Food Network-type show starring Billy Carter; and an MTV show built around Roger Clinton.
Then again, we’ve endured the radio careers of Oliver North and G. Gordon Liddy. And let’s not overlook Jesse Ventura’s Conspiracy Theory on TruTV. Maybe Clarence Thomas, Bill Clinton and John Edwards should co-host a new version of The Man Show.
This just has to end. I started this with a quote and I’ll end with the same; this time, from pop punk/synthpop band Cobra Starship. Their lyrics should inspire all of us: you can’t be missed if you never go away.