21 September 1998: The World Watches a President under Oath...

or, When Dealing with a Child, remember that You're still the Parent.

A unique aspect of newsgathering in Wasington is the pool. The five major news networks (ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NBC) take turns providing coverage of various events in Washington and its institutions. FOX was assigned to be the pool for playback of the taped testimony of the President before a Grand Jury.

As part of the team that put this pool together, I take a lot of pride in what we have done. A tape that enraptured the world today was played out through my machines, my equipment, through boxes I helped set up. The whole world was watching our efforts, and things couldn't have gone more smoothly. We all take pride in our jobs, in being the first on the air with a story, of having a beautiful shot, of producing a compelling tale of love or corruption or innocence.

We take a special pride, though, in doing a task that every other network is depending on us to do flawlessly and without predjudice to our own organization. With this historic testimony, we did that, and we did it with taste and pride. But what pride is there in the material that passed through our hands...

In my previous essay I think my anger at the President was very clear. That anger is in no way lessened by today's event, though I must say I have a bit more sympathy for the Commander in Chief after watching his testimony.

The sympathy I have is over the personal pain he is feeling. As he hedges and evades the questions, the motive is clear. Any of us under similar circumstances would do the same. Nobody likes facing up to the facts of their sins. Least of all men, and particularly men with machismo, and especially criminals.

I can see in Clinton's mind his survival instinct - it is that trait in particular that has pushed him to the lofty position he is in today. But at the same time, I see his actions as those of a young child, or even many adults I have me. He didn't do it, even if he did. And when confronted with the facts, talk your way out of it.

I didn't break the cookie jar, the cat must have done it.

Was I driving recklessly when I crashed the car. Well, what do you mean by reckless, Dad?

I didn't know it was cocaine, officer. It looked like baking soda to me!

I didn't kill by brother, it was the will of Satan acting in me.

I didin't have sexual relations with her.

To anyone who has raised a child, your words are familiar, Mr. President. And every time you try to arbitrate your crimes, you look all the more guilty.

And you have insulted our intelligence by making claims of the American public. You have said that many Americans have done similar things, and that what you did wouldn't be considered sex by most Americans. How out of touch you are with the very electorate that put you into office twice to lead the "most ethical government in history".

We hold you to a higher standard, because you represent us. The esteem of the world is that we are a people led by a lying sex maniac; just as Russia is seen to be led by a senile vodka maniac. We expected more of you, and you knew that. Shame on your actions because you knew what the stakes were.

But faith calls on us to forgive the sins. And that we do, as you have asked us to. But stop insulting us with your word games. You say that fellatio is not sex, yet why do we call it oral SEX? You rely on your "previous statement" rather than your word of yes or no.

These are not the caracteristics of a true leader. And for all of your complaining about the obsession with your sex life, do you not see that your deception nourishes our inquiry?

A casino man know to cash out when the luck is low and the stakes are high. A gambler keeps on betting. Be the professional that we elected to office, Mr. Clinton. Either put up or shut up. These are not easy decisions, and we feel the pain they cause you. But there is always punishments for crime and sin. The sin is forgiven by putting your soul into the mercy of God, and humbly asking his forgiveness. The crime is forgiven by granting your life to the public, and solemly pleading for mercy.

Put up, Mr. President, and lay all of your cards on the table. I think that in this game you will find the winning hand is your own. But the dealer is drawing more cards every day, and soon all of them will be in the hands of Congress. The mercy of the public is not won through deception and arrogance. And every day that you prolong the game your disgraceful removal from office draws closer. End the game while you can still save enough capital to play again another day.

Tell us the truth, openly and honestly in plain language, before the Senate and the nation and ask for a merciful resolution to this crisis that your reckless ways have given birth to.

Or keep you life to yourself, and leave the office to live it on your own terms. We elected you, and these are the rules.

Since you don't know what reckless is, son, it's obvious you don't have enough good sense to drive my car. Give me the truth, or give me the keys.

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