Is President Clinton above the law? I keep asking myself that question as I listen to the impeachment proceedings.
I've heard both the White House's excuses and the accusations of the Office of Independent Counsel, and I don't have a problem sorting through this mess. While not admitting all the facts, President Clinton says his answers to specific questions asked of him during his grand jury testimony were legally accurate. Since he said he was sorry and asked our forgiveness, everything is okay again and we are back to page one. I think not.
While my wife and I spent years explaining to our son about responsibility and teaching him that there are consequences to our actions, our President is proving there is no price to pay for misdeeds if you word your responses just right. In other words, I can lie on my income tax forms If I use the excuse that I only did it to protect my family. As long as I believe what I am stating at the time, I can't be held up to perjury charges. I have a feeling a lot of current and future prisoners will be asking for forgiveness and apologizing for their past wrongdoings and expecting their freedom in return if that is the new form of punishment our justice system will be handing out.
I can't imagine that the smartest and brightest people elected to lead this country cannot make a determination as to whether the President was attempting to mislead us and cover up his actions. I also can't believe that, even after the President himself admitted he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, there still are certain people saying we don't know if it's true or not. If this is the quality of our elected officials, I say we recall the entire lot of them.
What if Lewinsky were employed by a foreign government to seduce President Clinton? Our national security could have been placed in jeopardy because of his bad judgment. Our President could have been put in a position where he would be able to be blackmailed. We now know Lewinsky is not a spy, but who is to say the next one won't be. With two years left in his term, there's a huge possibility Clinton's bad judgement could land him in this position again.
I don't need to know about President Clinton's personal life. I don't want to know the things he and Hillary discuss late at night, his phone calls to his daughter, his money worries and investments or his bank accounts and what he buys for friends and family members. But what he does in the Oval Office on our time that could very well place our government in chaos are very much my business, and beyond the realm of my invading his privacy.
Also, if he is to be the leader we look to for our moral authority, President Clinton's actions make it harder for us to teach our children to be honest and forthright. I would like to think his apologies are genuine, but I think more is needed to please the nation. Had Clinton exercised the self-control and judgment expected of every American, we wouldn't even be in this uncomfortable position.
I am very disheartened that I am no longer able to share with my son my knowledge of the economy and other issues while watching the Sunday morning talk shows. Because of the President's improper judgment, we can no longer have our usual father/son Sunday morning learning experience we once shared. I feel this is something my son is being deprived of based on the conduct of the President and actions of our media.
I'm sure this crisis this will eventually disappear into our history and simply become a bad memory, but my son is missing out on civics shows and stimulating political conversations right now that could very well benefit him down the road. For this, I feel sorry for my son. For the state of our affairs (no pun intended), I feel sorry for our nation. For the bad judgment of our President, I feel sorry for him and his family. For having to place these thoughts on paper, I feel sorry for myself.
(E. LeMay Lathan is a member of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and author of the book The Black Man's Guide to Working in the White World. He can be reached at ELathan@ci.vancouver.wa.us.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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