Monday, November 28, 2005

'Duke' Cunningham and Second Acts

F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose life fell apart and imploded at an early age, once remarked, "There are no second acts in American lives."

I'm not so sure that's true.

Martha Stewart goes to prison and comes out with a network TV show, albeit short-lived.

G. Gordon Liddy breaks into the Watergate and gets a radio show.

Bill Clinton is impeached and goes on to have a special role at the United Nations.

Americans love second acts. They dig redemption. Especially when the person who has done wrong owns up to their wrong.

California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham has resigned from his seat today. This comes after his plea of guilty to taking more than $2-million in bribes. I was struck by this from one account:
After entering his plea in San Diego, California, the eight-term California Republican said he was "deeply sorry."

"The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office," he told reporters, his voice strained with emotion. "I know I will forfeit my reputation, my worldly possessions -- most importantly the trust of my friends and family."

Asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted cash and gifts and then tried to influence the Defense Department on behalf of the donors, Cunningham said, "Yes, your honor."
None of this is to justify the crimes to which Cunningham has admitted. He took bribes. He sold his services to corporate entities, rather than serving the nation he was elected to serve. And while his felonies will prevent him from ever again holding public office, Americans are willing to forgive people, giving them second acts. That's one of our country's most endearing qualities.

Cunningham is unlikely to incur the wrath of the late-night firing squads of Leno, Letterman, Maher, or Stewart. It's hard to lampoon someone who so willingly takes his lumps.


Kathy E. Gill said...

Quick post to let you know I've linked to you on this story. :)

Mark Daniels said...

Thanks a lot! That's quite flattering.


jay said...

Does anyone know the status of Nancy Cunningham? Will she face jail time? Will she pay back taxes? When will they ever investigate her 2002 employment at the US Department of Education where she was involved in millions of dollars of computer contracts?