Friday, February 20, 2009


I found myself saying to my five-year-old today that our nation desperately needs another Lincoln. When he asked me what I meant, I replied that we need a leader of principle and strong faith, an honest and truthful man or woman whose behavior is informed by his or her beliefs and who has the ability to explain both those beliefs and that behavior in terms that anyone can understand.

Alas, I can see no one on the scene today who even comes close to those qualities, and yet I see no end of fervent acolytes of the candidates who are parading themselves now before us. What has happened to the character of American politics? What has happened to the perspicacity of the American electorate? In a far less 'enlightened' age, Americans managed to find Abraham Lincoln and elevate him to the highest office. Today we cannot see even the most blatant lies pushed into our faces by the masses of media.

I return to the subject of Mrs. Clinton, the prospect of whose presidency terrifies me. In only the last few days she has been caught in lies and scurrilous misrepresentations that ought to disqualify any candidate from serious consideration for public office. She claimed that she helped start a popular left-wing website, only to have its founder deny the next day that that was true. She claimed that she did not have the authority to make decisions regarding the release her papers from her White House years, only to have reporters establish the next day that she is one of two people specifically authorized to do so. Her campaign released an insinuation that it was in possession of scandalous material about Senator Obama, which it was too high-minded to reveal, a tactic that is vintage Clintonism: On the one hand she injects into the public consciousness the idea that there is dirt on the Senator, while at the same time claiming the moral high ground with regard to it. Thus, she manages to smear an opponent while claiming to be above doing so. This is utterly reprehensible behavior, but, as far as I can see, standard operating procedure for her and her husband.

Consider the following:

How did Mrs. Clinton remove the White House travel staff in order to replace them with her cronies? By asking them to resign as any decent person would do? No; instead, she had the FBI investigate their finances, resulting in allegations and charges which it took them years and small fortunes to clear themselves of. And when she claimed that her Rose Law Firm financial records (which were being sought in order to investigate charges that she had billed clients for services she never provided) could not be found and that she did not know where they were, where did they finally prove to be? Under her bed. What happened to the man who had partial custody of papers relating to the White House travel office affair, the Rose Law Firm finances and the Whitewater scandal, and who had been Mrs. Clinton's close friend, adviser and a partner in her law firm? He was found shot to death in a public park. When her husband tasked her with devising a national health care plan, and Congress allocated $100,000 and a staff of 100 people for the purpose, what did Mrs. Clinton do? She ended up with a staff of over 600 people, and spent $9.6 million, holding closed-door hearings in violation of federal law, and producing a socialized health care plan which was rejected by Congress.

I recently read a book by the chief counsel to the Nixon impeachment committee, for which Mrs. Clinton served as an attorney, who says of his experience with her that he came to regard her as a "less than honorable" lawyer "unworthy of either public or private trust." (Jerry Zeifman, "Without Honor": New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1995, p. 123) And yet this is the woman whom the media continues to tout as the leading contender for the presidency, and whom her stultified supporters so eagerly advocate. It boggles the mind and makes the blood run cold. At least, it does so mine. And I cannot help but wonder: What would Honest Abe Lincoln make of all this? Would he be bemused, bewildered, or just ashamed? Perhaps all, perhaps none. I cannot decide either.