The above title to this post is actually a favored euphemistic comment offered by Southerners, and perhaps in other regions of the the USA, when perplexed observers, especially small townsfolk, offer to explain the seemingly inexplicable, ‘when someone goes bad.’ I think in the history of the Old South, it was used to describe people’s reactions to news that a well regarded person in the community had surprised if not stupefied everyone who knew that person, by doing some totally out of character bad deed. The local long time lawyer embezzling an elderly lady’s fortune, the head of the local town and sometimes only bank in the 1930’s making off with the bank’s funds and bankrupting the entire town etc. But much more often the scenario would involve that old bugaboo of sex. A scandalous affair, murder of a previous secreted paramour, backsliding into “sin,” and committing some crime “under the influence.” The reason/excuse/rationalization or just plain befuddled explanation offered to one’s friends or even if only to oneself, was the shibboleth, that ‘he [still] came from a nice family.” This harkened back to the days of the Antebellum South where good taste, being racially true and pure, whatever that was, always opening doors for ladies, always being polite and courteous to your worst enemy of romantic rival, having :good rearing,” by a “respected family” that was very successful, as somehow in most societies, perhaps perverted to an extreme in our modern business emphasis of greed and wealth as the only true standards of measure of a person, success equaled inviolate certainly of a steady moral compass in that person.
This past week we have had two nearly simultaneous scandals involving on the one hand, one of our lauded and over-idealized families of the national psyche, and a former highly regarded, middle America, salt of the earth, pillar of the community politician and warmly regarded former leader of Congress, emerge under new undeniable clouds of nefarious and to use a dated perhaps non “PC” [politically correct] phrase, “perverted’ circumstances. Of course I am referring to the public plights and perhaps overly well deserved media lashings now being suffered by Joshua Duggar of the “19 Kids and Counting,” TLC family reality television show about the now famous Duggar family, and, the former and longest serving in USA political history’s Speaker of the House, the former Honorable Dennis Hastert of the Midwest, the moral center point of our nation’s moral center if there is one.