Friday, March 27, 1998

Bill Clinton - When Good Men are Silent


Evils that befall the world are not nearly so often caused by bad men as they are by good men who are silent when opinions must be voiced. Men as in mankind, rather than not-women. An American writer in Prague, I watch our president twist in the wind---a breeze perhaps of his own making, but still merely a breeze, a zephyr of his humanity and yours and mine as well. I wish above all things, not to be a good man fallen silent.

It seems we have become a trap-setting nation, of kitchen mice and presidents. We are as well a media-led nation of followers, not the hounds on a scent we believe ourselves to be, but sheep following whatever Judas-goat is provided for us and no matter its credentials. The current model, with too many years and too many millions on his hands, failed to find the crime he was sent for and settled for whatever his mousetrap provided. Mr. Starr parodies the song, 'when I'm not near the crime I'm sent for, I send for the crime I'm near.'

He finally has what he needs, a president gut-shot with a bullet that will bring him down. What a nightmare. For Clinton? Yes certainly, but far more for us as a nation.

'We have a right to a president who tells the truth,' bray the sheep. Indeed we do and yet we are a nation of the small lie, the half-truth, the carefully worded, and we clothe our misstatements in smugness. We are after all, faithful to our wives, honest with our children and truthful on our resume'. Bloated from our own dinner-table and unable to shelter the homeless or feed the hungry, the big issues confound us and we fall like slathering dogs on the small issue that tripped up our fallen president. Yes, I know he's a faulted man. So am I.

Diane Feinstein recently declined to run for the governorship of California, unwilling to put herself or her family through the unending scrutiny of running for and then holding the office. Lee Iacocca and Colin Powell, both considered to be men who could have had the presidency for the taking, said no for similar reasons. Where will our future statesmen be found in such a climate? It takes guts to be a politician and courage to be a statesman and these may well be times of all guts and too little courage. Perhaps these times of our own manufacture will prove the presidency takes more of both than any credible candidate is willing to offer.

I hope not. I pray not, but the good men among us are silent.