When the Bob Greene scandal came to light, I noted that he’d probably be back in about six months. And so he is — the Esquire article from last month primed the pump, and then last week Greene popped up on CNN to offer some thoughts about Michael Jordan retiring. I expect he’ll do some more of this sort of thing for a while, then start popping out the occasional column or two about subjects near to his heart (basketball being an obvious one), and then probably somewhere along the way he’ll write something about his wife’s death, as she passed on during Greene’s exile.
I will expect that to be an excellent column, by the way — snarkiness about Greene should not extend to his relationship with his wife, since one does not stay married to the same person for 32 years without love, effort and a clear understanding of who each other are. But I also don’t doubt that such a column (into which a gentle, knowing mea culpa about the philandering thing, in the context of their relationship, will no doubt appear) will also serve as the final probationary act of absolution that will allow Greene to get back to the business of being Bob Greene.
And should he? Well, sure. Why not. If Roman Polanski can win an Oscar after having sex with a 13-year-old girl, it’s difficult to begrudge Greene a career based an ill-advised but consensual sex. The major difference is that now most people know enough to put him in the category of Men Not To Leave Your Daughter Alone With, along with Bill Clinton, R. Kelley and the aforementioned Polanski, which will undoubtedly have some effect (although, clearly, given the financial and cultural status of each of the aforementioned, not always the effect one would presume).
Hopefully the one thing that might come out of it is that Greene no longer phones in his writing. One Near-Career-Death experience should be enough to make him appreciate what he has left. And if not, well, Greene will no longer be scandalous, just utterly irrelevant. Which is something he can’t really blame on a scandal.