Speak Truth to Power
by Donald M. Parrish, Jr.
There he is, the made-for-TV President with
the easy charm, the well-tuned soundbite, the
everyman empathy, the painstaking appearance of
sincerity and the believable baby face. Although
twice elected President, he never won a majority
of the male vote. Clinton is popular with the
gullible whom he considers his legal prey. One of
his core beliefs is that he can talk his way out
of anything. Objective reality is subordinated to
spin. He is a spinmeister. He parses words until
syllables groan. He is, to use President Truman's
phrase, "a prismatic prevaricator -- a liar
any way you look at him." A charming &
So let's look at Clinton from different points
of view using some imagination. Let's pretend we
could "get inside the heads" of a
Democratic Insider, Emily Etiquette, a
Philanderer, a Feminist, a Psychologist and a
Historian whom we've invited to participate in a
roundtable discussion of Clinton. Note we aren't
seeking any input from that lowlife weasel, Dick
Morris, to whom President Clinton turns for
operational advice when he is in trouble.
A Democratic Insider: "Clinton has
lied to us so many times we gave up counting.
Because of him, we lost both houses of Congress.
Can't understand the utter recklessness of an
affair with an intern while he was being sued by
Paula Jones, pursued by the Special Prosecutor
and monitored by Hillary. Then that whole thing
with the cigar . . It was like 'I didn't inhale'
again. Give me a break. When Bill hauled in his
secretary, Betty Currie on a Sunday to coach her
to suborn perjury ('I was never alone with
Monica, right?'), that was really ugly. Still it
has been fun watching the Republicans squirm and
self destruct. As long as he can raise money,
Bill's our boy, but we gotta be real
Emily Etiquette: "I pointed out to
the President that having your organ of
generation ministered to whilst communicating on
the telephone is a breach of propriety and
protocol. He challenged me to cite the reference
in one of my books. I explained that this is
common sense. He shot back that depends on what
you mean by common sense. He is such a
good debater. And so handsome."
Professional Feminist Organizer:
"Clinton did put us in a box. We drove Bob
Packwood out of the Senate for grabbing a few
women and kissing them. We had a holy jihad over
Clarence Thomas using our strongest allegation of
the pubic hair on the coke can. What Clinton did
was textbook sexual harassment. This was no love
affair; he treated Monica like a sex slave. We
were disgusted at the tawdry details, but we
supported Clinton in public because we want
Federal funding. What's more important than
The Philanderer: "Clinton is such
a disappointment. So sloppy. He left semen
everywhere: on tissues, on the side of the
bathtub and the dress. Hired help talks after
they clean up! He should get a vasectomy to avoid
leaving DNA evidence next time. He totally
flubbed the Kathleen Willey seduction. It was
inexcusable. He had his eye on her for years. She
and her husband had given him $50,000 for his
campaign during the good times. But when she came
to the Oval Office that day, she was desperate
for a job (Remember her husband was committing
suicide on the same day over finances). Did
Clinton read her a poem and tell her he admired
her beauty? No, he grabbed her crotch! This is
not the technique for a refined, poised woman
like Mrs. Willey! Doesn't he know anything about
seduction? It served him right that she fled the
Oval Office almost running into Linda Tripp. . .
Another thing, why does he get involved with nut
cases like Monica who has a compulsion to talk.
Let him pick women in the private sector next
The Historian: "The Pilgrim ideal
was the civil society. The key to the civil
society is personal honesty and trust between
people. During their exile in Holland from 1608
to 1620, the Dutch never failed to loan any
Pilgrim money because their word was their bond.
American civilization is built on this bedrock of
personal honesty. For example, one reason Thomas
Jefferson selected Meriwether Lewis to led the
expedition to the Pacific was because he
possessed 'fidelity to truth so scrupulous that
whatever he should report would be as certain as
if seen by ourselves.' The whole legal system of
the United States is based on ascertaining the
truth, i.e. in the words of the majestic phrase:
'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
truth.' No one is above the law. The theme of
American history is 'speaking Truth to Power,'
not submitting to it."
Psychologist: "Bill Clinton grew
up in a home where the father was an alcoholic.
Billy learned to compartmentalize what went on at
home from his school life and present his home
life as if everything was fine to his
schoolmates. Bill has a photographic memory; he
can read 20 pages of text once and repeat it word
for word. The old saw is true: 'Liars should have
good memories'. Bill could keep track of the
various 'realities'. He learned early on to
manipulate people skillfully. Later he used focus
groups and polls to refine 'the spin of the day'.
Clinically, I've never seen anyone with the
compulsion to have it both ways like Bill Clinton
does. He is a black belt in bullshit."
Now that we have heard from the
"experts", it's time to analyze the
situation. We have the "Come Back Kid",
a creature of the TV age supremely confident that
he can talk his way out of any situation. He is a
practicing heterosexual who likes to practice. He
takes bigger and bigger chances and becomes
sloppy. Plays the hare to Ken Starr's tortoise.
Starr, a sheep in sheep's clothing, does not look
like much of a threat. According to Hillary (at
that time), on the January morning that the
Monica Lewinsky affair became public, the
President told her: "Look at this
story in the newspaper; you're not going to
believe it." Hillary dismissed the whole
affair as an invention of a "right wing
conspiracy." Clinton personally assured
cabinet officers, Democratic senators, etc., that
the whole thing was a lie. He wagged his finger
at the TV: "I did not have sexual
relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
Clinton did not simply lie and deny. He ordered
the attack dogs to destroy anyone who stood up to
his Power and told the Truth. It was vicious. It
would have worked, but the liberal press was
getting wise to him, Monica saved the dress, and
Ken Starr, the plodding Patriot, pursued the
Perjurer. Clinton was impeached.
Technology has become the nemesis of the
politically powerful, just the opposite of the
projections from the novels Brave New World and
1984. Audio tape, video tape, DNA screening,
excel spreadsheets (Monica was a modern girl who
kept track of her sexual activity on the
computer!) ... were all instrumental in Clinton's
undoing. His lies were exposed. You can't have it
both ways on video tape.
The whole story of 1998 is a Morality Play. In
each scene, the President is offered the chance
to tell the truth and end the play. But each
time, he tells a lie and the play continues. How
many scenes are left to go? The usual explanation
that he lied to cover embarrassment over a sexual
affair totally misses the point. He lied in the
Paula Jones suit in order to avoid losing several
million dollars. He lied to the Grand Jury when
everyone knew about the affair. He made a farce
of the investigation by claiming under oath:
"Monica had sex with me, but I did not have
sex with her." Starr even told the President
about the blue dress weeks before he testified.
Still the President lied to the Grand Jury, and
the play continued.
How will the play end? Many have called for
Clinton to resign. Clinton stated that Power is
his highest value and he would serve to the last
hour of the last day of his term. It would be
very manipulative for him to resign since that
would be the action of an honorable man. Besides
Hillary would never allow him to do it.
Another possible ending: Presidents Carter and
Ford proposed a tidy censure package deal which
would have avoided putting the Senate in an
awkward situation. In return for admitting that
he lied under oath, President Clinton would be
allowed to complete his term, avoid a trial in
the Senate and not be prosecuted for perjury
after his term ends. Still the Come Back Kid
thinks he can avoid an admission of lying. Facts
are stubborn things; reality is real, and so the
Morality Play continues.
The Senate might surprise us all by
impartially analyzing the evidence, convicting
President Clinton of high crimes and removing him
from office. If they cut a censure deal with
Clinton, there is talk of a $1,000,000 fine. This
is no punishment. One phone call is sufficient
for Clinton to raise that much money. Even $10M
is no problem for him to raise. Domestic sources
or foreign. A few calls. No problem. He can
"rent out" the Lincoln bedroom again.
The punishment should fit the crime. Since
President Clinton has dishonored his name, he
needs to be denied an honored place in history.
My proposal is that part of any punishment
package should include a stipulation that no
public building, military base, weapons system,
home for unwed mothers, street, park, airport,
dam, hospital, law school, scholarship, etc., be
named for him. Nothing. Further, no federal funds
should be used for his Presidential Library (in a
trailer park?). To emphasize the lesson, let's
name something after Kenneth Starr.
There is only one other possible ending. This
is extremely far-fetched, but by writing about
it, I hope to preclude it. If Clinton committed
suicide or was assassinated, then the tables
would be turned on his enemies. They would be
viewed as heartless and cruel. It would be Saint
William Jefferson Clinton. His name would be
plastered indiscriminately on everything. As a
stunned nation watched, President Gore would pick
as his Vice President, Hillary Clinton.
President Clinton, you are in the same spot
that Richard Nixon was. You have the Power to
destroy the earth, but not to avoid the Truth.
How long is it going to take you to figure this
out and admit to your lies under oath?