Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.


Not everyone can recover

Q: Not so long ago, Alec Baldwin called his teen daughter names in a horrifying phone call heard around the world. Now he's co-hosting the Oscars ceremony. Was the decision to spotlight Baldwin a wise one? And after a public figure embarrasses himself or herself so profoundly, how do they regain their footing? Who has managed to overcome such shame, and who has failed to?

There are things that should be kept in the family, and Alec Baldwin's admittedly shocking tirade to his daughter is probably one of them.

While what he said was harsh, it was indiscreet for that recording to be used to humiliate him in public. There are many who think this was just another chapter in an ugly divorce and custody battle with his ex-wife. That, and his ability to make people laugh -- and to laugh at himself -- in the roles he has taken lately, has been enough for the public to forgive his indiscretion.

But not everyone can recover. There are a number of different and colorful offenders we can study, but rehabilitation is not always an option. Sometimes an offender just needs to go away.

For instance, consider the amazing John Edwards, whose indiscretions with another woman were ongoing and outrageous while he ran for the U.S. presidency and while his wife battled terminal cancer. No one has come to his defense. No one has suggested that he can be rehabilitated politically. Maybe he can start research into sexual addiction to help others who are on the path to self-destruction.

Next, we have the nature-loving governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, who was supposed to be wandering for days on end on the Appalachian Trail, but turned up in Argentina with his mistress. His wife was understandably angry, and the marriage ended. So, too, has his political career.

If John Edwards ever starts that clinic, Gov. Sanford and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer would be great candidates. There is a need for intensive research into people who destroy their lives over addiction to sexual horseplay.

In recent news, we have the case of Rep. Eric Massa from New York who is in a ticklish situation. He is rumored to have groped men who work for him, and has alternately denied the stories and given interviews that substantiate the rumors. As my wife often says when one of these stories breaks, "Can't you men keep your hands to yourselves?"

By Jan Scruggs  |  March 11, 2010; 3:56 PM ET  | Category:  The comeback Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Never say you'll never stray until you have been tempted. Never say how you will react in a given situation until you have been confronted with that situation. In all cases, reserve judgment and hope that you will be afforded the same courtesy.

Posted by: djmolter | March 12, 2010 10:53 PM
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I agree with Annie in D.C. While I think both Edwards and Sanford acted heartlessly and in extremely poor taste, neither (to our knowledge) was in the category of Tiger Woods, i.e., serial players. ALL of them lacked common sense on many levels. If they didn't give a rat's behind about their wives, what about their children??? That's a hellofa legacy to leave your progeny.

On the same hand, Ted Kennedy's family survived, although he blew any chance he had at the presidency.

Posted by: itsagreatday1 | March 12, 2010 3:50 PM
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"But not everyone can recover. There are a number of different and colorful offenders we can study, but rehabilitation is not always an option. Sometimes an offender just needs to go away."

so Cheney/Bush is batting .500...

Bush has "gone away" now if only Cheney would get the hint...

and when will we see the announcement of the WPost's purchase by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp?

Posted by: teoc2 | March 12, 2010 1:39 PM
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It is very odd to consider the problem to be sexual addiction if the issue is a person in a committed relationship having an affair with, or falling in love with, one person other than their partner. I am IN NO WAY excusing what any of these men did, but to equate an ongoing affair with one person (such as Edwards or Sanford) with serial adultery and/or one-night stands, whether with casual acquaintances or prostitutes, is really bizarre. They are both wrong, but to think that they are the same problem is to misstate the problem. If you can't properly state a problem, you can't properly discuss it.

Do you really believe that a person who falls in love with someone other than their partner is equal to someone who regularly seeks out no-strings-attached sex with multiple partners? The former may be handled honorably or dishonorably, but I fail to see how you can assume it is based on sexual addiction or "a need {to} destroy their lives over addiction to sexual horseplay." Tragic as it all is for everyone concerned, it may be based on love, and a perfectly healthy one at that.

Posted by: AnnieDC | March 12, 2010 1:33 PM
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