Why did Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a political rising star with amazing potential, fall prey to a gifts scandal? That’s the question my latest column, Bob McDonnell, and the perils of being famous but not rich, seeks to explore.
Here’s an excerpt:
“There are dangers in aggressively trying to elevate one’s status, even in America. Imagine being McDonnell, the son of an Air Force officer, suddenly surrounded by all the trappings of wealth and power. Is it so hard to imagine how he might be tempted? That doesn’t mean it would be right — only that as people, we should be able to understand.
“Living beyond your means and trying to be something you’re not is fraught with danger. In this regard, the McDonnells are extreme examples of modern American culture.”
I’m not throwing this theory out as an excuse, but rather, as a potential explanation for how — what David Brooks called “status-income disequilibrium” — can have negative consequences.