Gore Vidal called us "the United States of Amnesia." And now Lance Armstrong's televised cheating confession raises the question of whether, when it comes to fallen heroes, there's anything Americans won't forgive and forget.Continue reading.
From Bill Clinton (again toast of the Democratic Party) to Charlie Sheen (again a sitcom TV star) to Michael Vick (again an NFL quarterback), the bar for public redemption seems to have gotten lower and lower. Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o — embroiled in his own personal drama over a fictitious girlfriend — could be next up in the groveling line.
"America," says Frank Farley, former president of the American Psychological Association and a student of hero worship, "is the land of second chances." All you have to do is ask — especially if you can throw a ball, sing a song, make a speech, coach a team or hold the camera.
Armstrong, though, tests even Americans' capacity for forgiveness; in addition to doping, for years the cyclist bullied others to dope; vilified his accusers and investigators; and used his cancer survivor-cum-superman-athlete saga to enrich himself and raise money for charity.
As a cyclist, Armstrong has climbed many hills. As a candidate for forgiveness, says John Cirillo, public relations consultant and former New York Knicks spokesman, "he has a Mount Everest to climb. He's become one of the most notorious liars in American sports history."
Yet experience suggests there is hope even for Armstrong. He just has to repent — or appear to.
This scandal is completely ho-hum, since people must be dopes to be surprised that Armstrong was doping. And so far, folks aren't too impressed with this dude's mea culpa, but we'll see. Check the New York Times, "Those Wronged by Armstrong See Little Right in Interview."