There is an interesting moral judgment phenomenon going on in the news these days. On the one hand we have Governor Blagojevich who, if nothing else, is a real slime ball – almost a caricature of some South-side second-rate racketeer out of a B-movie. But has he, in fact, actually done any serious damage? It looks more like a pile of bungled attempts at extortion than anything else. Be that as it may, this incompetent would-be political gangster has all the headlines.
In the meantime, we have nice, polite, well educated and highly respected Mr. Madoff who has stolen billions from a huge variety of investors, and ruined the fortunes of untold others. All he gets are a few brief reports on the business pages and a big ho-hum from a public that is simply not entertained very much by a thief of monumental proportions that are all but impossible to comprehend.
We are outraged by the bumbling boob and bored by the sophisticated big time thief and killer of hope. What gives? Why are we not all the more outraged by Mr. Madoff? Why do we not think of him as a greater slime ball than Blagojevich? I find the press and the public most puzzling.