The Bill Bennett
By Susan Shelley
Why would the casino industry want to discredit Bill
Somebody gave Newsweek and the Washington
Monthly forty pages of confidential casino documents detailing a very
good customer's gambling habit, and that's not something you see every day,
To strike at a man publicly, in a manner calculated
to seriously damage his career and credibility, somebody had to be very angry,
or very frightened, or perhaps both. This was the kind of attack designed
to neutralize a dangerous enemy.
But why was Bill Bennett an enemy to the casino
Perhaps the casino industry was afraid that Bennett's
organization, Empower America, was making some headway in its opposition
to the spread of legalized gambling.
Not likely. It's laughable to think the casino business
would drop a nuclear bomb on Bill Bennett just to silence the clucking of
hens like that.
Perhaps Bennett owed a lot of money and tried to pressure
the casinos into a negotiated settlement with a booming "Do you know who
Not likely. For one thing, Bennett told Newsweek he
doesn't owe anybody anything, and none of the magazine's sources disputed
that. For another, a scene like that would end with casino executives pounding
on the carpet and laughing until their sides split.
Perhaps Bennett made a few phone calls to complain
to the powers-that-be in the casino business about those TV commercials that
show women coming to Las Vegas for secret one-night stands. "What happens
here, stays here," the ads promise.
Now we're getting somewhere.
Less than a week after the Bennett story broke, the
Associated Press reported that the Treasure Island hotel-casino is replacing
its family-friendly pirate battle with a new show featuring sexy sirens--"part
wench, part temptress" reads the casting notice--in a "sensual modern
interpretation" of the Battle of Buccaneer Bay.
In addition, Caesar's Palace has designated its Venus
pool for topless sunbathing, and Cirque du Soleil's upcoming show at the
New York-New York hotel is billed as a "provocative exhibition of human
sensuality, arousal and eroticism."
Got the picture?
Suppose Bill Bennett, a man who advocates traditional
family values, told someone in the casino industry that Las Vegas was putting
its convention business at risk by dispensing with the coy wink and openly
flaunting that the town is a free-wheeling fantasyland of wild sex and no
Suppose Bill Bennett tried to explain that family-values
groups might organize pressure campaigns to stop businesses from holding
conventions in a city that home-wrecks for a living.
Suppose Bill Bennett's friendly words of warning were
interpreted as a direct threat against the livelihood of the whole place
and everybody in it.
May 10, 2003
© Copyright 2003 by Susan