The Wrong Stuff

Many years ago when I was a cub reporter covering the insider trading scandals on Wall Street, lo and behold, I discovered one of the guys the feds nabbed was a college friend of mine.

Rich, young, successful, destined for greatness. In the end, going to jail.

I guess this whole saga around NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak got me thinking about all this stuff.

She too was successful. She too was widely respected. She too, in her own world, was literally thought out of this world. Just last summer she was a hero on that Discovery shuttle mission for operating the remote arm like it was a mere toy.

She was that good, that smart and that respected.

I just can't understand how you go from "that" to a police mug shot, charged with attempted kidnapping and first-degree murder.

Something snapped, I guess.

Just like something snapped in Ivan Boesky more than two decades ago — Wall Street's most feared raider turned Wall Street's laughing stock when his misdeeds were caught on tape.

And at what point did Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco lose his acumen for deals and pick up his penchant for $6,000 shower curtains and God knows what else? He had it all. He lost it all.

Like Ken Lay, once America's most celebrated CEO, then its most loathed, then dead.

Life isn't fair or even rational. I guess, as my mom used to say, it just is.

And we're left just to wonder: How careers that looked like rockets crashed and burned like some rockets do.

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