The end of the old, the beginning of the new year | Clinton's end or beginning | How to hate - the case against Congress | Confrontation and reconciliation |
The end of the old, the beginning of the new year
The end of every year is a mark of closure for most religions and a new beginning. It is a time of celebration as old as mankind. Imagine going all day without eating all day for a full month. The Muslims cultivate piety in this way during Ramadan to mark the time when the Prophet Muhammad gave them his revelation. Near the end of this period, God determines the course for the following year. A feast marks the end of the celebration.
For the Jews the "Festival of Lights" (Hanukkah) marks the time when Judas Maccabee recaptured the Temple and rededicated it. An oil lamp miraculously burned for eight days, thus an eight day celebration marking the new beginning of the Temple.
For Christians, it marks the time of God's gift to the world, His grace (forgiveness, reconciliation), represented by the baby Christ.
Clinton's end or beginning
This year for Americans, time seems pregnant with the idea that politicians shouldn't lie, and is about to give birth to a demon or a savior. The profile has risen on this issue to the point that it can't be ignored. Like a grinch threatening to steal Christmas, it has cast a solemn shadow over the holiday season. No trivial issue, it has put many in Congress in jeopardy, the House of Representatives in chaos, and divided America. The religious light is seen but dimly through the scrim of conflict.
President Clinton dragged into the presidency a legacy of improper conduct with women, and when the issue first arose he chose to lie about it, while continuing to pursue other women. Like a cancer, the lie grew bigger and bigger. The lie permitted him to avoid responsibility for his actions and the personal, political, civil, and criminal consequences. To this day he is still trying to avoid the civil and criminal consequences. Each time Clinton refuses full responsibility, the Congress turns farther away from him, until now the lies have come full term and he is impeached.
For the record, I remain unbiased. An issue and ability oriented voter, I vote for both Republicans and Democrats. I voted for Bush the first time, but not for "What's a domestic policy?" Bush the second time. I voted for Clinton and generally approve of his presidency, but am very disturbed by his misconduct.
How to hate - the case against Congress
I previously asked, "Can anything credible come out of the House impeachment hearings?" This is a very complex issue and deserves full deliberation by our politicians. Personally, I was prepared to hear both sides, but like most Americans I considered Clinton's lies more typical of politicians than something impeachable. Did the issue get a credible hearing?
There are three counts against fairness. First, in spite of a preponderance of American opinion against impeachment, a majority of the House demanded it and refused to hear otherwise. The people were fully aware of the facts and had been for months - they had spoken. But we are a representative government, and the politicians are supposed to represent the people. Although we would probably not want to interfere with their policing of their peers, it has become very awkward since they turned a deaf ear both to the American people and to their Democratic peers in the House. This is something to hate.
Second, had there been a mix of opinions on both sides of the House speaking for and against impeachment, then I would say the hearing was fair. But the vote split largely along partisan lines, with only five Democrats crossing over. This casts grave suspicion over the vote. This is something to hate.
Third, I listened for content and attitudes during the debate. The Republicans refused to hear any alternatives to impeachment. What I heard from the Republicans were sterile speeches about the law and the Constitution. They wrapped themselves in the Flag, held up the Holy Writ, and quoted the law, saying, "Our hands are tied - we have no choice but to follow every jot and tittle." What could possibly be wrong with that?
Picture a Ku Klux Klan meeting, people shrouded in perfect white, American Flags waving, Bible's being quoted, and members saying, "You're not perfect like we are, so we're getting rid of you." Picture the McCarthy Commission poking around in people's lives looking for lies. Picture the Grand Inquisitor... Picture a world without mercy. When the law has no room for the weightier matters of justice and mercy, then I have to agree with Samuel Clemens's writing, "The law is an ass."
The law is not an ass, only the people who do not use it properly. When the law claims its hands are tied, then you know people are just looking for justification for what they want to do. The Republican attitude was "impeach," and they found justification. If they were concerned about the court finding the impeachment unconstitutional, then they would have had a case. But they weren't - they appeared to be only trying to find a reason to not consider other options. The Constitution was used as a smoke screen.
Congress can do just about anything it wants to. Are we restricted by the Constitution? Are we a free people who determine our own destiny, or are we slaves to the past? Those who wrote the Constitution did so as a reaction to other political systems in which they found obstacles to freedom. They were not experts on living with freedom. We today, especially our congressmen, are the experts with 200 years of living with freedom and our Constitution. After consulting the wisdom of the Constitution and past action, we must decide our own course of action, not abdicate to the past our responsibility for the future. The Republicans chose to try and place the responsibility outside of themselves. This is something to hate.
The Republicans did what most of us do at one time or another - they found reasons to do what they wanted to do, and there are plenty of reasons to hate them for it.
Do the Republicans have any leg to stand on? Suppose that most of the Republicans were disposed to see something that the rest of us are blind to out of allegiance to Clinton and a predominate habit of forgiving and forgetting. Many years ago we began electing representatives that weren't part of the old political system. We wanted to replace all those men who wheeled and dealed and prevented anything we wanted from being done. We stacked the deck with new members to the point that the old group no longer knew how to do politics. Many of the senior members actually left office for this reason. We asked the new members to clean up politics and make it work. They have their work cut out for them.
Suppose these new men see that Clinton's lying under oath would be very destructive for our country if not punished. If the President can lie under oath, or even lie to the people, why can't everyone do it? Our legal system would become a farce. Our political system would become a den of thieves. They could see that instead of cleaning up the system, the Congress would be allowing everything to get worse by ignoring Clinton's crime. A simple slap on the hand, a "Censure" with no teeth in it, would be a farce - the only thing that would do would be to express moral and ethical outrage in the strongest terms.
The Republicans can see that Clinton is getting away with abusing his office by affairs with women, and is getting away with lying under oath and refusing to answer questions submitted by Congress. But the Democrats are so loyal to Clinton that they can't or won't see this. This is something for Republicans to hate.
We could get vindictive about this. The House is in chaos and the country is becoming divided. Perhaps we need a Special Prosecutor to start monitoring Congressional voting and start prosecuting these partisan votes for malfeasance or conspiracy. Perhaps he should look for a conspiracy against the President - the makings of a coup. Maybe the Prosecutor should start investigating sexual misconduct - maybe they look at pornography on the Internet - maybe some of them are pedophiles. Maybe the Grand Inquisitor - I mean the Special Prosecutor - should look into every crack and crevice of their lives to see what they are doing and how they are thinking. Lies, misconduct, deceit, and vengeance.
Confrontation and reconciliation
When everyone is angry, suspicious, and set on getting vengeance, what can be done to bring peace? It is my experience that when "wrong" is swept under the carpet and ignored, it doesn't stop, it only gets worse. It is through facing our weaknesses that we become strong. When Clinton was first accused of sexual misconduct, did he stop? No, he lied about it and continued doing the same or worse in the Oval Office. At this point he is continuing to evade responsibility through legal denials designed to avoid legal repercussions. He refused to answer questions submitted to him by the House. He is infuriating the Congress and putting more distance between them. His attitude is not much different than Saddam Hussein's attitude. Saddam won't allow inspections no matter who it kills. Clinton won't take full responsibility for his actions no matter what happens.
The President set the collision course. It is up to him to change course. All he has to do is accept responsibility - totally - for what he has done.
Resign? No, it may seem honorable, and may be at times, but the most responsible thing for anyone to do is to continue to be responsible for what they are responsible for, work at overcoming their problems, and accept other's forgiveness and help.
Otherwise Clinton may follow the same course as Nixon. When Nixon continued denying that he had done anything wrong, it brought to mind Daniel 4:28-35 of the Bible. King Nebuchadnezzar attributed to himself the building of a wonderful kingdom. Immediately he was removed and was seen eating grass in the fields like an ox until he understood that he wasn't the all powerful one. I wonder if Clinton has had a taste for grass lately.
In religious terms, this is one time of year when people confront their weaknesses and pray for forgiveness and strength to overcome them. By New Years Day they make New Years resolutions. By January 2 we usually break them - I no longer bother. I just hope the Inquisitor isn't looking for me. : )
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Ramadan "Atyab at-tihani bi-munasabat hulul shahru Ramadan al-Mubarak" (May it be said, the most precious congratulations on the occasion of the coming of Ramadan) - Arabic - (sorry I left out a few religions) - may you know your weaknesses and through the help of God, conquer them, and may God bring you a happy and prosperous new year.
PS: See the movie You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It's a captivating romantic comedy about two individuals who can't wait to love each other, but hate each other. It's a reconciliation story in which two people do a lot of the right things instead of the wrong things. Oh, it should be, "You have mail."
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