I’m not ready to forgive and forget Bill Clinton
Like many of you, I watched television Monday night as President Clinton admitted to the nation that he is a liar.
Unlike many of you, I am not ready to forgive and move along.
I have not written about any of this sorry business with the president because I have not felt qualified to do so – every pundit and politician in the country has expressed an opinion on the subject, and who cares what I think?
But Monday night, the president made me mad. He’s lied in the past and asked for forgiveness. Once bitten, twice shy, I say.
The heart of this issue is leadership, an elusive creature that must be groomed before it is ridden. You lead by earning the trust and respect of your subordinates, who follow you because they want to follow you.
Leadership cannot be inherited, legislated or mandated. It is a natural outgrowth of honesty and character.
We have all experienced poor leadership. The person in charge uses a different set of standards for himself than he does for everyone else. He “misleads” people. He demands respect but does not give it.
Similarly, we have all experienced good leadership. The person in charge works just as hard as everyone else. He gives himself no special treatment. He tells it like it is.
Which person would you trust? Which person would you follow?
I cannot trust a man who has no self-restraint. Nor can I trust a man who lies.
And I cannot follow a man I don’t trust.
I suspect a great many people feel the same way. Americans are lambasted for making demands of their president they would not make of themselves. The president is human, Americans are told. The president makes mistakes.
Well, yes and no.
While it is true the president is a human being, he‘s a very special human being. He’s the leader of our country. He inspires us through his example, and helps set the tone of our way of life. We hire him to be better than we are.
It is sad enough that our president cheated on his wife and lied about it under oath (which, by the way, is a crime).
But he has the gall to attack those who exposed his lies, and to demand that we forget about the whole thing and move on?
I won’t vouch for the objectivity of the special prosecutor’s investigation, but Clinton insults us. He insults the office. He insults the people who are struggling to maintain a semblance of decency in the way we live.
When Clinton made the decision to run for office, he consciously accepted the risks, the demands, and the unfairness of public life.
And when Clinton made the decision to engage in an illicit affair, and then when he made the decision to lie about it during testimony, he was influenced by nothing other than his lack of character, and conscience.
Is this the kind of person you’d follow?
If so, we have a bigger problem than a liar for a president.
This column was published in the Northwest Florida Daily News on Aug. 19, 1998 and is used with permission.
About the author:
Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”
Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.
As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.
Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .