Opinion

Opinion

A bad deed can define entire career

By Jim Merriam, Toronto Sun

Bev Oda speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 17, 2011. (Reuters/Chris Wattie)

Bev Oda speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 17, 2011. (Reuters/Chris Wattie)

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It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

But don’t take old Ben’s word for that. Just ask Bev Oda.

Until this week, Oda was Canada’s international co-operation minister.

She resigned from that position and from her seat in Parliament under the shadow of a $16 glass of orange juice.

No matter where she goes from here — I’m betting a cushy government appointment — she’ll always be known for charging that $16 to taxpayers during a trip to England.

Perhaps it’s a tagline more than a reputation, but it will stick.

Witness Conrad Black. Regardless how many books he writes or prisoners he teaches, the former media magnate will never shake the fact he turned his back on his Canadian citizenship.

Actor Charlie Sheen’s tombstone might mention addled outbursts and Tom Cruise will never live down his couch-jumping rep, no matter how many starlets he divorces.

The late Rodney King will be linked to the L.A. riots for eternity and Tiger Woods will never live down the golf club and the angry wife thing.

Even years after his death, it’s not unusual to see the words “fuddle duddle” when former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s name comes up.

And no matter free trade or his anti-apartheid victories, Brian Mulroney’s name forever will be linked to disgraced German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber.

They’re still selling TV shows and books about John F. Kennedy’s womanizing as well as his father Joe’s bootlegging. Another Kennedy, Teddy, didn’t escape being tagged by Chappaquiddick and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, whose body was found inside his car under water.

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake made popular the term “wardrobe malfunction” and will forever live with it.

It’s too early to say which mess out of many will stick to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for the long haul, but it might be the fact he was unable to tip the scales in his favour at his weekly weight-loss romp.

The colour Ornge will plague Chris Mazza, former boss of Ontario’s air ambulance service, forever — just as the decimation of the old Conservative party will be Kim Campbell’s cross to bear. Mel Gibson will go down in history as an anti-Semitic boozer. And then there’s Alec Baldwin. We’ll all be better off if history just forgets him.

You don’t have to be famous to be tagged. Although we’ve already forgotten her name, we’ll always remember Octomom. And who will ever forget Lorena Bobbit who did a number on her party-loving husband’s private parts with a knife?When we think of top 10 lists, our minds land on David Letterman. Pee-Wee’s wee-wee, as in Pee-wee Herman, will always be associated with his name since he exposed himself in a darkened theatre.

When you think of the following people it will be hard not to think about their tags:

Courtney Love and heroin; Salman Rushdie and his death order; John Belushi and overdoses; Mike Tyson and rage; and Hugh Grant and street prostitutes.

Closer to home Premier Dalton McGuinty will go down in history for trying to wipe out rural Ontario.

Despite these and many other examples, a tag does not have to be negative.

All the tributes to Andy Griffith this week mentioned Mayberry, the fictional small town setting of his first major TV series.

That was a good thing.

jmerriam@bmts.com


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