Policy Versus Personal Life
When a politician cheats on his wife, the supporters of that politician frequently argue that what the public should not concern itself with his personal life and that what counts are his policies. There are three problems with that. One is that the policies of an immoral politician are likely to be immoral. A politician who is dishonest in his personal life is likely to lie to the people he was elected to serve. These lies can have serious consequences. The second problem is that even if a politician's policies are moral, being an effective politician requires building a relationship with other people. Good relationships whether they be marriage or between a politician and those he deals with, are based on trust and respect. The ability of a politician to carry out policies depends on his relationships with the people involved. The third problem with that is that a political leader has a responsibility to set an example for the people he serves. During the debate regarding the impeachment of President Clinton Representative J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, said
"How can we expect a Boy Scout to honor his oath if elected officials don't honor theirs? How can we expect a business executive to honor a promise when the chief executive abandons his or hers?"
Senator Joseph Lieberman, one of the most respected Democrats in the U.S. Senate denounced President Clinton's conduct in the Lewinsky Affair as "disgraceful and immoral." He went on to state that the President's conduct would have lasting consequences, all negative, on the nation's history and status in the world. "No matter how much the President or others may wish to compartmentalize the different spheres of life, the inescapable truth is that the President's private conduct can and often does have profound public consequences." And, "The President's relationship with Ms. Lewinsky not only contradicted the values he has publicly embraced over the last six years, it has, I fear, compromised his moral authority at a time when Americans of every political persuasion agree that the decline of the family is one of the most pressing problems we are facing."
Jason Fodeman wrote a book called How to Destroy a Village: What the Clintons Taught a Seventeen Year Old. In it he wrote how the publics acceptance of Clinton's behavior encouraged children to do the same (WorldnetDaily Posted 6/28/03). He saw the public fawning over Clinton at a Casino and spoke about his thoughts at the time in a speech at an Accuracy in Media event in 2002:
I just didn't get it. The people fawning over him were not the billionaire lawyers, the hotshot liberal businessmen, or celebrities that Clinton most likely entertained earlier in the evening when he gave one of his six-figure speeches. No, these were everyday, hard-working middle or upper-middle class family people on vacation. People whose job of raising children was made infinitely more difficult by the Clinton Presidency. It made me sick!
One would think, parents would not want to schmooze with an alleged rapist, someone who lied under oath, someone who had to cop a plea on the last day of office to avoid indictment, and someone who even today is still under federal investigation.
It's really hard to figure. Here is a man who, because of his philandering ways, most women would not want for a spouse, you wouldn't trust him five minutes with your daughter, and you certainly would not buy a used car from him, but people seem to say that for president he was OK.
He wrote in his book that:
My parents taught me not to lie, to always obey the laws, and to treat others respectfully, The Clintons actions were in direct conflict to all of these lessons.
Nothing is a bigger turn off to a kid than this "do as I say not as I do" mentality
Fodeman said he witnessed the effect of Clinton's behavior his his childhood peers and that he too was affected by it. He pointed out that his observations are backed up by a study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which showed an increase in oral sex among children as young as 12 and another which showed increased cheating by both high school and college students.
The effect of Clinton's lies on his ability to conduct foreign policies was discussed by Turin's La Stampa newspaper (week of January 25, 1998) in a newspaper editorial.
"If the president, even without the U.N.'s consent, decides that the
moment has come to use force against Iraq, would it be seen as
trying to divert attention from his domestic scandal?"
Spain's El Pais said the worst possible consequence of the crisis
would be "the search for an international crisis to enable (Clinton)
to retake the reins."
The mass-circulation Sun said Clinton's credibility
faster than a zipper."
The Irish Times suggested how Clinton's behavior could weaken his own party and pointed out that Clinton's political opponents might actually prefer to see him stagger on rather than quit.
"In a year of congressional mid-term elections, it could suit the
Republicans better to have a scandal-stricken President staggering
on and doing huge damage to Democrats up for re-election, than
to have them rallying under President Al Gore with the Clinton
scandals just a bad memory," it wrote.
As the House Majority Whip, Tom DeLay of Texas, put it in Washington: "When you have a President that in my opinion has cheated on his wife, he will cheat on the American people. When you have a President who can't tell the truth about his mistakes, and own up to them, he won't be able to tell the truth to the American people. And he hasn't."
A frightening example of this was experienced by Scott Ritter the chief U.N. weapons inspector of Iraq. The Clinton administration actually prevented the U.N. inspectors in Iraq from inspecting because they did not want the public to know that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction since then they would have to act. As a result Scott Ritter the U.N. chief weapons inspector resigned. Ritter made it clear that the United States shares responsibility for Iraq continuing to be a global menace. "Iraq today is not disarmed. It remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and to world peace," he said. "Those Americans who think this is important and that something should be done about it have to be deeply disappointed in our leadership." Eventually in response to violations printed in inspector Richard Butlers report that were clear for all the world to see, the Clinton administration did bomb Iraqi weapons sites.
After this disgraceful lying of the American Government the Israeli Government foolishly agreed at Wye to allow the United States to monitor Arab compliance with the Oslo accords. In an interview by Danna Harman of the Jerusalem Post on November 3, 1998 Scott Ritter said that
"the real arbiter will be the State Department, and this is a cause for great worry. The entire effort has been politicized - this is the Clinton administration's own Camp David, and they really cannot afford to let it fail. Therefore they cannot be counted upon to be honest brokers."
Claiming the Arabs are complying with their agreements so that he can pressure Israel to make security concessions and tell the public that he has made progress with peacemaking, may be good for Clinton politically but it's not good for peace.
One problem with personal dishonesty is it makes politicians vulnerable to blackmail. Four dozen people who were subpoenaed to testify in the trials of Clinton have fled to China and it is likely that this has influenced Clinton's policies toward China. The disastrous consequences of this are described in Anthony Codevilla's article which appeared in the Washington Times.
When the president is caught lying, frequently there is a lot more misconduct and lying we don't know about. The lying we know about may be only the tip of the iceberg. Al Santoli wrote a review summarizing the events described in the the book, The Year of the Rat with shocking revelations of the damage President Clinton has done to U.S. security. An article that appeared in Readers Digest (p125 October 1999) called Shot by a Laser tells how the Russians used lasers in peace time to damage the eyes of American pilots and how the Clinton administration swept that under the rug as part of his appeasement policy of the Russians. This story is also discussed in the book Betrayal by Bill Gertz.
A politician who lies in his personal life is likely to lie in his public life and engage in misconduct with results that are far more serious.
c o p y r i g h t ( c ) 1 9 9 9 - 2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises. All rights reserved
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