- Ain't nothing quite as sad as watching your heroes die/One by one as they fall soon there'll be no heroes at all" -- Waylon Jennings, "Heroes"
He comes out of nowhere and, through hard work and moxie, rises to the top of his profession -- a vessel for the hopes of adoring followers, praised and coddled until he's not. Because just as fast, he's a bum. A liar. A cheat. A loser.
Today, these words might apply to Manti Te'o and Lance Armstrong, disgraced sports stars whose fans now feel like dupes. But these feel like a political stories, because in my line of work, the cycle of disillusionment is just as fast and even more pernicious. In Washington, scandals destroy careers (Anthony Weiner, Tom DeLay, Ted Stevens, Webb Hubbell and Vince Foster) and sidetracks others (Bill Clinton and Karl Rove), while even the most successful politicians can't meet the expectations we place upon them. U.S. presidents, especially, are victims of their own mythology.
Bear with me while I connect the dots between a hoax, a doper and the decline in the public's faith in institutions, particularly government.
Te'o, star linebacker for one of the nation's most venerated universities, Notre Dame, built his image around the story of his grandmother and girlfriend dying within hours of each other during the 2012 season. That myth fell apart Wednesday when the web site Deadspin published an article saying Te'o's girlfriend didn't exist.