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The Breakfast Club Takes on Jackson, Fawcett, Sanford, Mrs. Madoff

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On the day after Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett went to their fabulous maker(s), The Breakfast Club kicked off its daily meeting with discussions of both departed celebs. (This is the Breakfast Club with whom I meet every morning between, roughly, 7:30 and 10 and without whom I wouldn't be able to quell the cabin fever I endure working at home alone for the rest of the day).

Jeff said it was a shame Fawcett had to be overshadowed by Jackson. He was referring to all the coverage and not just the fact that The New York Times started the Jackson obit at the left-hand top of the front page and only ran a small alert to Fawcett's inside obit at the bottom.

This prompted Ted, who's made necrology a specialty, to note that two prominent same-day deaths are rare. He cited the double deaths of Yul Brynner and Orson Welles as well as Sammy Davis Jr. and Jim Henson but rated the Jackson/Fawcett passings more significant. Ted added that the happiest man in the world at the moment had to be Mark Sanford, whose infidelity had been shoved aside in the wake of the impending wakes (or memorial services or whatever would occur) for Jackson and Fawcett.

This got us diverted to Sanford, and we all agreed (Tony and myself included) that Sanford had to be a major fool. The discussion turned on how these men-in-the-spotlight think they can get away with their indiscretions. There was talk along power-corrupts-absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely lines--the assumption by these men that they'll get away with it, despite devastating evidence to the contrary.

I asked, "How does a man like Sanford think he can take a commercial flight and not be recognized by someone?" Which leads me, I said, to my theory that underneath his confidence--and those of other recent philanderers like John Ensign, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer--lies a deeper sense of inadequacy. These middle-aged self-deluders set themselves up to be caught and thereby to prove to themselves they don't deserve to have reached the positions they've reached. Jeff, the practicing therapist among us, didn't buy my thesis. He's convinced these men find themselves overwhelmed by their position's pressures and unconsciously contrive to alleviate them by oblique means.

Just then, Tony---preoccupied with a crucial client meeting at his office--had to depart, while someone else highlighted the news account of the Supreme Court's 8-1 strip-search decision in favor of the now 19-year-old who'd complained about her treatment as a 13-year-old suspected of hiding drugs on her person. She'd been vindicated when the Court declared her humiliation unconstitutional.

There was general agreement among us that Clarence Thomas didn't know what in blazes he was talking about in his one-man minority dissent. Then I read out Ruth Bader Ginsburg's remark that her colleagues--all men, of course--didn't fully understand the young girl's predicament because none of them had ever been a 13-year-old girl.

I said it was a good thing Justice Ginsburg hadn't made this comment when she was being vetted for her place on the bench or she would have been branded "sexist" by the extreme right in the way Sonia Sotomayor has been declared "racist" for expressing her sympathy with Latinos. The others saw my point.

By then, someone else had spotted the New York Post photograph showing Ruth Madoff riding a subway car directly under a sign that had a large-type graphic ironically blaring "99 cents." Needless to say, the Madoffs have been the butt of jokes for several months with us--as with everyone else on the globe--although we assume that those stung for millions aren't laughing too uproariously. Luckily, Breakfast Clubbers with money in the market hadn't had any with Ponzi-schemer Madoff.

What we reiterated on this return to the well-worn subject is that we don't buy the spin that Mrs. Madoff--or the two sons--didn't know about pere Madoff's high-rent chicanery on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteen floors of the Third Avenue Lipstick Building. Wives know these things, we agreed. After all, didn't Jennifer Sanford know about her hubby's Argentinian tootsie?

So the chat was pretty serious on the post-Jackson/Fawcett death day, although I don't want to give the impression it remained entirely on that elevated concerned-citizen plane. Amid the suppositions about Michael Jackson's ultimately sad life while trying to regain the childhood he supposedly never had (that's Neverland for you), there were digressions to lighter aspects of his career.

Which songs of his we loved were mooted--Ted sang snatches of "Thriller" and boogied in his metal chair; I brought up "We Are the World." And of course, there were colorful remarks about the relative pulchritude of other Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company customers.

In many ways, another bracing Breakfast Club meeting.