July 26, 2003

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Law of Large Numbers

All those who believed William Bennett--and disbelieved the law of large numbers--when he claimed he had come out "close to even" in his gambling need to mark their beliefs to market:

Las Vegas SUN: Bennett Admits Losing 'A Lot of Money': WASHINGTON (AP) - Family values advocate William Bennett rejects reports that he lost $8 million at casinos over 10 years but acknowledged it was "a lot of money."

"Maybe not too much, given what I made, but too much given who I am and what I do," the former education secretary said. "I think it was just best to call it quits."

In an interview to be aired Saturday on CNBC's "Tim Russert" show, Bennett said he was never a gambling addict, and that his history of betting shouldn't diminish his credibility....

"It was a high level, was a lot of money," he said, and "counting up, has made a difference in our lives."...

The Las Vegas Sun does not consider the effect on Bennett's credibility of previous claims to have come out "close to even"...

Posted by DeLong at July 26, 2003 06:08 PM | TrackBack


Poor Bill Bennett has a certain amount of my sympathy -- but as a gambler I am able to limit my losses, so the amount of my sympathy I can allot to him is perhaps not large. Certainly not, uh, porcine in proportion.

Like him, I love Las Vegas. Unlike him, I can report my accounts accurately: I am $35 down. In six visits I have lost my ten dollar limit on five occasions, but won $15 on the other. We've both done business with the excellent Steve Wynn: Bennett collecting his comps and paying off his markers (a trade in which the exchange rate is not good, at least for Bill), I simply having had a friendly chat with Wynn about the politics of Ontario's casinos.

Bill has often struck me as my evil twin. We arrived in Boston on the same day in 1967. He was all over the papers as the newly appointed assistant to John Silber, President of Boston University, responsible for anti-anti-war action; I sent to Boston rather quietly by Marshall Bloom, to root out a stupid incipient terrorist group who were about to start bombing refineries, they said.

Bennett did his thing -- mostly fulminating, as far as I can see. I gathered all the prospective little George Meteskys in a coffee shop in the BU Students' Union and pointed out to them that I had just driven up from Washington through New Jersey. On the New Jersey Turnpike you drive for maybe an hour through nothing but oil refineries. It would take you a year to make a dent. Like not a good plan, eh, guys? And if I know about you already, seems like you're not going to be on the outside for very long, dunnit? End of Boston Bombing Initiative. Sometimes people *do* need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

I don't think anything's changed much in the 35 years since. He still fulminates and poses. I still do something useful from time to time.

Maybe it has something to do with knowing about limits.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on July 26, 2003 07:24 PM

"his history of betting shouldn't diminish his credibility"

A man who makes his living and career lecturing other folks about the evils implicit in their vices simply cannot be caught in a situation like this and expect to retain any credibility at all.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Posted by: Chuck Nolan on July 26, 2003 07:45 PM

It's nice to see Bennett stripped down and exposed for a fraud. I'm looking forward to the same happening to Ann Coulter (I don't mean that literally, of course).

Posted by: Dan on July 26, 2003 08:15 PM

"I'm not a hypocrite," he said. "I never got on the soapbox about gambling."

Uh, what about lying? Death of outrage indeed.

Posted by: nameless on July 27, 2003 03:57 AM

William Bennett made a habit had an addiction for bullying anyone who did not live up to absurd imagined ancient Roman standards. Always knew Bennett was a fraud, know it more from the string of obvious lies.

Posted by: lise on July 27, 2003 08:03 AM


Why not literally? You must be a nicer person than I am.

Posted by: C.J. Colucci on July 27, 2003 03:00 PM
Post a comment