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  • Writer's pictureMarc Johnson

Second Acts


Dick Morris Surfaces in Idaho

Am I the only one who remembers that Dick Morris, the sputtering, chubby “political analyst” that seems to be the all-purpose pundit on any Fox News shows, is the same Dick Morris that once helped engineer Bill Clinton’s political comeback and is now running demonstrably false TV ads against a Democrat in an Idaho congressional race?

Oh yea, and there was that business with the call girl that caused him to have to resign from Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign and the unpaid tax bills that ABC News has reported on.

Just for the benefit of the historical record, Morris was on consecutive covers of Time magazine in 1996. Once for being the brilliant Rasputin who captured Clinton’s ear and created the so called triangulation strategy that allowed the President to claw back from the disastrous 1994 mid-term election. The second time – the headline was Skunk at the Family Picnic – was the story about a prostitute who allegedly listened in to Morris’ phone calls to Clinton. Morris resigned and one would have thought, maybe, that was the end of that story.

It is a testament to the short attention span of American politics that a fellow like Dick Morris has any credibility at all, let alone a national TV platform and a political action committee that claims to have raised more than $3.5 million to support GOP House takeover efforts. (Morris says he thinks a 100 seat pick up is possible.)

By the way, no picture of Bill Clinton on the Morris website, but Ronald Reagan is featured prominently. Morris never worked for Reagan, but you get the idea.

The trajectory of Morris’ weird career – in addition to Clinton, he worked for Jesse Helms, Ed Koch, Trent Lott and a bunch of foreign candidates – proves a powerful point: if you are audacious enough, not bothered by any notion of consistency (or perhaps loyalty), can’t spell the word shame and are willing to soldier on in this media age you can survive almost anything. Americans love to give a second chance. Just ask Eliot Spitzer.

Who would have thought a year ago that the disgraced former New York governor, forced to resign thanks to his own prostitution scandal, would be back. But, he is back and on CNN in a prime time cable show.

Stay tuned. There is hope for Mark Sanford, his poll numbers are up, now that he’s off the hiking trail. Tom Delay got his shot on “Dancing with the Stars” while waiting for his corruption trial to begin. That former New York Democratic Congressman Eric Massa who resigned after members of his staff went public about his sexual advances, it is only a matter of time.

We could go on and on and on proving F. Scott Fitzgerald, no stranger to scandal himself, wrong. The author of The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise famously said there are “no second acts in American lives,” but Fitzgerald, who died in 1940, obviously didn’t know about modern communications in the cable and Internet age.

The Dick Morris’ and Eliot Spitzer’s of this world get a second act simply because they are outrageous, shameless and literally live for the limelight. That doesn’t mean we need – or should – pay any attention to anything they say.

The better question is why anyone would send Morris their money or turn their dial to Spitzer. Maybe it has to do with suckers being born with some frequency.

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