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December 7th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Have We Forgotten What Success is all About?

AP Photo: Gerald Herbert

AP Photo: Gerald Herbert

I’ve done my best to refrain from commenting on Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the polo-playing socialites and hopefuls to be on the upcoming reality show, The Real Housewives of DC, who seemed to have crashed the White House state dinner.

For now, let’s not even think about how shocking it is, if they were not invited, that they actually wound up standing next to the president. I wanted these two bozos to disappear as soon as their five minutes of fame were over. But, alas, it’s clear they aren’t going away anytime soon. They apparently will be subpoenaed to appear at a congressional hearing, and there will no doubt be major prime-time television interviews, and magazine cover stories and book deals to come. No doubt, some media wise ass will name the duo as among the “Top Newsmakers of the Year.”

For a lot of those people, this was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Yet who does the media focus on? The two gate crashers, of course.

Here’s all I ask of all the reporters and commentators who continue to cover the fame-crazed Salahis: When you do your next story on their pathetic attempts to become celebrities, take a couple of paragraphs to mention all the people of achievement who actually were invited to that state dinner.

Just take a look at the guest list. Arriving at the White House that night were genuine stars in medicine, film, literature, public service, journalism, classical music, diplomacy, business — a list ranging from General Colin Powell to Steven Spielberg to Deepak Chopra.

Look, as we learned from last month’s Balloon Boy fiasco, there will always be someone hoping to find fame through tabloidish reality TV. No matter how much we rant about it, there will always be somebody who will be glad to walk through fire, or sit in cow dung or eat worms to get headlines. And, sadly, they do get headlines. It makes me wonder if the culture of celebrity in our society has begun to erode our understanding of what constitutes genuine success.

I’ve actually listened to some people speak admiringly of the Salahis, saying that they must be very creative, highly intelligent, remarkably savvy and certainly motivated to do what it took for them to get into the White House. Well, then, why don’t we go ahead and praise all criminals who pull off bank robberies? Why don’t we call them true symbols of American success? Seriously, are we at a point of rewarding those who don’t know the right way to behave?

I wish we had a rule that the only time we can use the word “successful” is to describe people who live with dignity and social responsibility. Imagine if the news media focused on them. Imagine if they took the time to laud real role models instead of those just hoping to land roles on reality TV shows.

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