Ten years ago today, we discovered that Presidents are just like us- they lie, they cheat, they have trouble keeping it in their pants. In short, they’re exceedingly human, with all the attendant moral, ethical, and libidinal failings. This anniversary is not one to celebrate, but given the choice between a President who gets his helmet polised by a zaftig female intern and a murderous war criminal…hmm, tough choice, eh?
Too many Americans feel perfectly justified in holding President to far higher standards than they would ever dream of holding themselves. It’s as if an American President is expected to be some sort of moral pilot light, representing all that’s right and good about this country. Thus edified, Americans can then go about lying, cheating, stealing, and sleeping around and feel as if nothing’s amiss. When that pilot light is doused (by a Democratic President, of course- Republicans get a free pass), the weeping and gnashing of teeth can be heard throughout the land.
Personally, I don’t subscribe to that point of view. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve been walking this Earth long enough to know that while most people are generally good, most politicians are not inherently moral creatures. There are those who legitimately want to serve and make a difference, of course, but most politicians tend not be renowned for their self-sacrifice. More like self-aggrandizement, I suppose. I’m not trying to be cynical, merely a realist…and I don’t think I’d be proven wrong.
Bill Clinton, as it happened, turned out to be a very complex and brilliant man, blessed with both the desire to serve and seemingly insatiable appetites. I feel comfortable in contending that Clinton did far more good as President than bad. Yes, the Lewinsky scandal was certainly nothing to be proud of, and no reasonable person would condone that sort of behavior. How about we try to maintain some perspective, though? Clinton didn’t prevaricate his way into a war based on lies, propaganda, and fudged intelligence. He didn’t kill 151,000 Iraqi civilians with his deception and greed. He also didn’t bear responsibility for 4,000 (and counting) young Americans who willingly went to Iraq only to come home in flag-draped boxes. Given a choice between Our Glorious and Benevolent Leader © and Bill Clinton…well, if you have to think about that one for more than a nanosecond, you might consider getting professional help. Immediately.