Evil ways

A Morality Play

The faces of Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr and Bill Clinton are like red figures against a blue background, dancing in a Matisse-like circle, arms outstretched, hands touching, each one mysteriously (even fatally) related to the other two. Two are intelligent lawyers from small southern towns. Two (at least) have vigorous sexual appetites. Two think of themselves as invulnerable. Two come from dysfunctional families. One is pious and wishes the other(s) ill; one may bring the other down without wishing to.

I propose to turn their stories into a moral tale, a lesson. I claim that each one is doing evil. It is not enough to say that she is ditzy, that he suffers from satyriasis, that he is a pious right-wing thug. Is there a common language by which we can call them evil today? Evil, Reinhold Niebuhr has written, is always “the assertion of some self-interest without regard to the whole.” But that is only a beginning.


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