The real shock for me in the current presidential scandal is not the President’s behavior, as bad as that is. The real shock is the public reaction to the scandal. The Arizona Daily Sun recently ran the responses of a random sample of Flagstaff residents. One 27-year-old woman said, “I think it’s much to do with nothing. He gets (oral sex) in the Oval Office—so what? I don’t understand the uproar. Why is everyone making such a big deal out of someone’s sex life? I don’t care who Clinton had sex with.”
A retired U.S. District Court judge basically concurred and added that his friends abroad cannot believe that America is willing to destroy its president because of an extramarital affair, especially when the country “is doing so well economically.” A recent National Public Radio report echoed the judge’s sentiments. It said that people in France don’t understand why are Americans so upset over a little adultery. That country used government funds to support former President Mitterand’s mistress and her child by him.
Others will go so far as to say that the President was wrong (as he himself has publicly admitted), but since he is doing a good job running the country, he shouldn’t be impeached. Others say things like, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” “Judge not, lest you be judged.” One political cartoon showed Clinton being judged by congressmen who were themselves guilty of former affairs and other shenanigans. The caption read something like, “At least he will be judged by his peers.” Many portray Kenneth Starr as a puritanical attack dog who is prying into this poor man’s private life. The clear implication is, “Lay off!”
These public reactions concern me more than the President’s failure because they reveal that America is morally adrift with no compass. Even the honorable retired judge doesn’t seem to have a clue about the moral (if not legal) issues involved!
Setting aside the sexual moral issue for a moment, why are Americans not concerned with a President who lied under oath? Did he not swear to uphold our Constitution? Isn’t telling the truth under oath an essential part of our legal system? And, clearly it’s not the first time Mr. Clinton has lied until he was forced to admit it. Remember Gennifer Flowers? Why isn’t the public concerned about a public leader whose word cannot be trusted? Are we so naïve as to think that the man carefully restricts his lying to “his private life”?
Why are Americans not holding our Commander-in-Chief to the same standard that was imposed on Lieutenant Kelly Flynn, who was relieved of her commission and discharged from the military for adultery? Why are we not concerned about a President who uses his power to obstruct justice and to obtain special favors (a well-paying job) for his mistress to keep her quiet? Richard Nixon abused his power and lied and we forced him out. Why are we hesitant to give Clinton the heave-ho? Perhaps the judge’s comment about the economy reveals America’s true god!
Where is the outcry from the feminist camp? We’ve heard so much about sexual harassment on the job lately that men hesitate to complement a female employee on her new hairdo for fear of losing their jobs. What would happen if a local 50-year-old male school principal had sex in his office with a 22-year-old female student teacher? Wouldn’t the whole community demand his resignation, and rightly so? Would he be able to argue that the community should not interfere with his “private life”? If the improper behavior took place in his office during working hours, could he rightly claim that it is none of our business?
Why isn’t the American public concerned about our President’s poor example for the institution of marriage? Are marriage vows passe? What kind of example does this set for our children?
But the most disturbing thing is the way the American public shrugs off biblical standards of morality: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). If God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, the Canaanites, and the Roman Empire for moral perversion, can America go on much longer? Those who shrug off Mr. Clinton’s behavior as no big deal had better prepare to meet God! Remember, He didn’t give the Ten Suggestions!
Published in the Arizona Daily Sun, October 9, 1998