As a rich man, Bennett played high stakes, stakes he could afford. What did he do wrong? A saint, perhaps, would have preferred to spend that money more productively. I could say as much about the $4.60 I spent this morning on breakfast at the local diner; Cheerios at home would have saved enough to feed an Ethiopian family for a week. OK, so cross Bill and me off the list of candidates for sainthood. But the hope and promise of Catholicism is that you do not have to be a saint to be saved, or to be a good family man.
The evangelical objections to gambling stem from the Protestant work ethic, a deep regard for proper stewardship over money, that has been and continues to be an immensely powerful and positive force in American cultural life. The older I get, the sadder places casinos seem to be, full of restless longings for thrills that never really materialize.
But Bennett's peculiar fortune or misfortune is to be the man more responsible than any other Catholic for reaching out, defending and making common cause with evangelicals and others who share our common moral tradition. In defense of that important alliance and to rebut the charge he is an addict, Bill Bennett announced his gambling days are over.
Sounds like a stand-up guy to me.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.