by Marc Levine, Senior Fellow
On its front page last week, the WSJ reported that the FBI is enlisting actor Michael Douglas in its efforts to prosecute insider trading cases. These cases appear to involve stock traders at investment banks and hedge funds that allegedly shared information with one another. I would venture to guess many of these traders bear similarities to Gordon Gekko (Mr. Douglas infamous character from the 1980s film Wall Street) with respect to wealth, arrogance and movie-star looks. If some or all of the 120 people being investigated broke the law, they must be held accountable. Regardless of the judicial outcome, these investigations will upend the lives of these people and their families. If ever a government activity required sober and professional execution, this is it.
But with the roll out of Mr. Douglas and the attendant celebrity circus, the law enforcement arm of the federal government is diminishing the seriousness of its responsibilities. Given the FBI is aware that Michael Douglas isn't really Gordon Gekko, why are they diminishing their authority with this nonsense? It was tiresome enough to watch Martin Sheen opine on the issues of the day back when he was playing president on television, now we see the federal government actively blurring the lines between our nation's serious business and trivial celebrity culture.
Having Michael Douglas assist in law enforcement is as ludicrous as arresting him for the crimes he portrayed in his role as Gordon Gekko. Perhaps we could take this lunacy further; maybe charge Anthony Hopkins with the first degree murders he committed as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, or give Tom Cruise a speeding ticket for his work in the Mission Impossible movies. Our nation has serious policy and business to attend to, we deserve a thoughtful federal government rather than our current Animal House.