November 12, 2011 | We've seen two spectacular falls this week — one set off rioting in the streets, the other made pundits hyperventilate.
In Pennsylvania, a sex scandal that had been swept under the rug for years finally erupted with public revelation of an former assistant coach's serial pedophilia that was allowed to continue because top university officials chose to treat "I saw the coach sodomizing a 10-year old boy in the shower" with the seriousness of "I saw Mama kissing Santa Claus." The trustees, to their credit, decided heads should roll, including that of head coach and football icon Joe Paterno.
The students responded with outrage and took to the streets. Not outrage that children had been sexually abused on campus by a coach, but outrage that "the winningest coach" had been fired for doing nothing when told about it. Oh, no, the precious football program!
There could be no better illustration of how sports have perverted our highest institutions of learning. College sports are very lucrative. The Penn State football program is said to have made $50 million in profit on $70 million in revenues in 2009 (Joe Nocera, NYTimes, 12Nov2011). Football and men's basketball have become profit centers for colleges and universities where, in all too many cases, the student-athletes are first and foremost athletes and students only in name.
In Michigan, Rick Perry had a senior moment during a Republican debate that left him unable to name all three of the federal agencies he vowed to eliminate if he became president. Oops! Oops, indeed.
Despite the fact that I abhor Perry's politics, I feel great sympathy for him. It happens to everybody sooner or later — starting a simple sentence and suddenly losing the train of thought. He just had the misfortune to do it on national television while millions (I'm being generous) of people were watching. Poor bastard.
To Perry's credit — it pains me to write those words — he faced up to it ("I really stepped in it tonight!") and is poking a little fun (that's surely not the right word) at himself in an attempt to get past the incident. Whether he'll ever get another campaign contribution is an open question at this point.
Although not quite as spectacularly, Herman Cain took another fall this week when he illustrated once again that he not only knows nothing but also that he'll never learn. After all the accusations that have been leveled against him about sexual harrassment, Cain still made a joke about Anita Hill endorsing him. (Those having a memory lapse should google "Anita Hill pubic hair coke".)
Predictably, as Cain fades to black (pun intended), like Perry and Bachmann before him, The Salamander in the race (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/newt) is getting a bump in the polls. But then, there's another debate today!
Last updated on Jun 5, 2016