October 03 '98
Politic Evasion Indirectly Speaking
ight about now, everyone is tired of hearing about our President's personal life. I wouldn't blame any reader for skipping this article, except he'll be wondering what he missed. I had scheduled this piece for the last issue in September but postponed it, desiring to concentrate on the Bailey White article and not profane an issue I would be sending to one of my favorite writers. For the record, I will not be sending this issue to our President.
Quite a few politicians (pessimistically, I would say all), would rather tell a lie than the truth, or so it would seem to the casual observer. When a lie is too hard to fabricate, on the spur of the moment, politicians will often resort to sidestepping the question. Evasive tactics used by individuals to avoid directly answering a question have long been a source of irritation to this writer. Persons who are illusive in their response to questions will soon lose my trust and respect.
I continue to be amazed at how often persons in the political profession dodge hard questions by offering answers that seemingly have little to do with the question asked. While, I don't have a recent and real example to offer, I can illustrate my point.
Reporter to political analyst, "What do you believe the President should do about recent acts of terrorism on American interests abroad?"
Response of the analyst, "The President is committed to human rights and firmly believes the economy will continue to prosper for the duration of his political term."
Sure, it is a little far fetched, but if you will start taking notes of how truthfully and directly politicians answer the questions they are asked, you will discover exactly what I am talking about. To be fair to the politicians, I must place some of the blame on news reporters, themselves. Reporters, when confronted with evasive responses, are guilty of dropping the topic and moving on to their next question when they should be restating the original question and pressing their subject for a legitimate response. In my opinion, such passivity on the part of the reporter is as contemptuous as the skirting of the question by the politician.
The turmoil surrounding the publication of the Starr report on the President's most recently known extramarital affair and alleged impeachable offenses, set White House officials into yet another spin cycle. If you have monitored the interviews on morning news programs, you may have noticed the officials, analysts, and observers, who defend the President, choose to explain what is not in the report rather than deal with the topics of the Starr report. It's a circus.
Thanks to the shrewdness of political and legalistic rhetoric, I have discovered another flaw in my character. Alas, I am not an average American. At least, that is what Bill Clinton alleges. The following is excerpted from the Starr report, specifically from the President's testimony to the Grand Jury on August 17, 1998.
The President refused to answer questions about the precise nature of his intimate contacts with Ms. Lewinsky, but he did explain his earlier denials.(26) As to his denial in the Jones deposition that he and Ms. Lewinsky had had a "sexual relationship," the President maintained that there can be no sexual relationship without sexual intercourse, regardless of what other sexual activities may transpire. He stated that "most ordinary Americans" would embrace this distinction.(27)
The report proceeds to define sexual relations as described in the Jones' deposition in simple, precise, and easily understandable terms. That definition will not be presented here, but it is available to readers in numerous formats, from newspapers and periodicals to books, even the Internet. I will comment that the definition of sexual relations, used in the Jones' deposition, is consistent with everything I know on the subject. However, our President seems to have lost touch with reality in defending his testimony by reasoning, in effect, that if two persons are involved in a sexual act in which only one person is active and the other a passive recipient of sexual affection, then the passive party is not engaged in "sexual relations." In my view if "it takes two to tango," then surely the same principal is applicable in a sexual partnership. The following is also taken from the Starr report and is from the same section related previously.
In the President's view, "any person, reasonable person" would recognize that oral sex performed on the deponent [the President] falls outside the definition [used in the Jones' case].(32) Bracketed remarks are for clarification and are this writer's.
Not only am I not average or "ordinary," I must conclude from the President's sworn testimony that I am not even a "reasonable person." Yet, I am not alone, there must be millions more who find the President's narrow definition of sex, unfathomable. It just goes to show you the depths to which political personalities will seek to hide the truth, and it further exposes the shallowness of the character of the same.
Eureka! Today (9/16/98), I heard a genuine example of political evasiveness. National Public Radio announced the President was asked if he was going to resign from office.
Reportedly, the President replied, "The American people want to put all this behind them and move forward."
To me, that is not answering the question. Instead, it is a response that indirectly implies a negative answer. It is most certainly not a direct answer to the question. I would much prefer an answer such as, "No, I do not intend to resign," or "I have no comment at this time." Of course, I don't necessarily get what I want, but it would be so nice to hear a politician answer the question asked, straight forwardly, directly.
Überman People's President
If my two years of German, taken at Ole Miss in '64 and '65, remain any good (highly questionable), Überman means every man. It was an article on the editorial page of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 9/27/98, by a syndicated columnist, that reminded me of the German word. The columnist was attempting to explain why President Clinton continues to enjoy favorable ratings in the polls despite the media attacks upon his character and integrity.
The first point the columnist considered but quickly dismissed was the role of the country's economy. He, more or less, pooh-poohed the idea that since the economy is basically strong and unemployment low, Americans could not care less about the President's troubles. However, I have reasoned, for quite some time, the state of the economy has a direct bearing upon the President's approval rating. In fact I have used the economy as an excuse to explain the lack of concern by the average American, and I continue to maintain if our economy was not feeling the residual effects of the Regan/ Bush era, then the cry of the populace would be for impeachment, based upon perjury the President has seemingly committed. Presently, most Americans see the hoopla as a sexual matter.
The principal thrust of the article, written by the syndicated columnist, was that Americans see themselves in all of this. Every man among us wonders how well his own personal life would stand up to the scrutiny given the President's personal life. He maintained it is the empathy of Überman with the people's President that sustains Clinton's popularity among the masses. I would not disagree that a bit of truth can be found in his reasoning, for I can personally identify with anyone who has committed sin. I do not doubt the capacity each of us has to make wrong choices, to stumble, to fall, and to ultimately seek forgiveness. Yet, even David, Israel's greatest king, was not spared the consequences of his transgressions surrounding "Bathsheba-gate." Though he was guilty of adultery and murder, God forgave him, but did not withdraw the punishment of David through the workings of the consequences of his sin. David was denied the privilege of building a permanent dwelling place for God ( the Temple), one of his son's tried to unseat him from the throne, and two generations later his grandsons had divided the kingdom he had fought to establish.
If, the American people are willing to forgive the President his sexual indiscretion, and overlook the supposed impeachable offenses, perhaps it is because they have forgotten that no sin goes unpunished, not even their own.
I am not so certain the polls purporting to reflect the opinions of the average citizen are worth much, let alone the costs to conduct them. Quite often polls are tools used by persons to reflect statistics that the poller desired, a stacked deck, if you please. I would be interested in knowing how many of the polled individuals who support the President's "remaining in office" have also read any of the Starr Report or seen as much as a half-hour of the President's Grand Jury testimony. I well imagine most Americans have caught merely bits and pieces of the Clinton scandal on the airways of raido and TV. In my mind, the only persons who could read the Starr Report and see the video of the Grand Jury testimony, and not have grave concerns over the implications would be the jurors who, despite seemingly incontrovertible evidence, voted to set free O.J. Simpson.
History may be kind to Bill Clinton, and it is equally probable that O.J. Simpson will find and bring to justice those who killed his ex-wife Nichole Brown Simpson.
Bodock Beau Kid's Stuff
Beau believes "kids say the darnedest things." He claims some grade school teachers must agree, because they keep journals of amusing things their students have written in papers. Here are a few examples:
Beau thanks Joe Fannin for passing along the above witticisms.