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Just Another Point of View: Let's talk about cheaters and their cheating ways

Let me guess — you were thinking just the other day that you are the only person in the world who is not achieving your goals by cheating.

I know, right? Me, too!

So, there must be two of us, anyway.

You no doubt heard that Lance Armstrong, who won seven straight Tours de France, only to have it disclosed later that he took performance-enhancing drugs to outpedal all the other bicyclists in the world, conned his girlfriend into taking the rap for some drunk-driving shenanigans in Aspen, Colo.

Once a cheater always a cheater, huh?

Oh, sure, there is some comfort in the fact that, every once in a while, one of these characters gets caught ignoring the rules that all the rest of us feel obligated to obey.

But for athletes — whether they’re boosting their home-run-hitting numbers with performance-enhancing drugs or just letting a little air out of a few footballs — the temptation to get the upper hand on the other guy, team or obstacle must be overpowering. It may be even worse when there is big money to be made.

And why would a truly honest person even bother with a job on Wall Street? But even those folks can look down their noses at the utterly amoral criminals among them (like Bernie Madoff), who prove they’re capable of robbing their own friends and neighbors without the slightest bit of concern.

When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he was said to reply, “Because that’s where the money is.” You’ve got to admire his honesty.

My very good friend Mikie (a female) had a pertinent comment on this topic once that our family members often quote, due to its perfection and profundity, and it was: “Cheater, cheater, pants on fire.”

Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods — both highly thought of in their own special arenas — famously cheated on their wives. It appears they were both pretty good at it.

Many other high-profile figures (Gary Hart, Bob Packwood, Wilbur Mills, Hugh Grant, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, etc., etc., etc.) proved to be not so adept. Compared to those guys, I feel hugely superior — simply because I’ve had the good sense not to cheat on my wife.

Personally, I think of Islamic extremists as cheaters. Do they really believe they will find some sort of spiritual satisfaction at the end of their lives after beheading journalists, burning people in barrels, blowing up innocent women and children and all the other ridiculously evil crap they pull in the name of their religion?

That’s even more repugnant than the idea that you might “get religion” on your deathbed and somehow slide home with eternal salvation. That, according to my dad, was where the final reckoning would come.

Those people who zoom around us every morning in their BMWs — which they can afford because of a ridiculous salary, foolishly believing they deserve it because they work harder than everybody else — only to cut back into line at the last minute? They’ll pay sooner or later, my dad would insist.

But I’m not so sure. I find no solace in the life-after-death argument, since I don’t believe there is such a thing. I’d much rather see some consequences to bad behavior in this lifetime.

Watch the documentary, “The Invisible War,” about the prevalance of rape in the military (or, even better, watch this year’s doc by the same filmmakers, “The Hunting Ground”), and just try to convince me that crime does not pay. As a society, we’re not even close to protecting ourselves from that kind of predator — which is, of course, another brand of cheating.

I never thought Richard Nixon would have been dumb enough to break so many laws in public view, let alone to record himself doing it. Same goes for Spiro Agnew, who clearly was not the brightest of public servants. But come on — accepting bribes? How cliché. How old-fashioned.

You may be one of those who has decided that Gov. John Kitzhaber is now paying the price for cheating. There’s certainly plenty of evidence to suggest he’s been blinded by love — or power — into making questionable decisions (at the very least, taking his eye off the ball), but his case just makes me feel sad.

After all, It’s not like he’s been zooming around me every day in his BMW and then cutting back into line.

For that kind of thing, I’d say (channeling my old man, sort of): Rot in hell, you cheatin’ SOBs. If only there was one.

Former managing editor of several community newspapers, including the Woodburn Independent, Lake Oswego Review and the Times papers, Mikel Kelly is chief of the central design desk for Community Newspapers and the Portland Tribune, and he contributes a regular column.

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