Bill Clinton's remarks at the White House prayer breakfast more than made up for his less-than-contrite confession on the night of his grand jury appearance. I was at the breakfast, and I saw close-up a man and his wife in deep agony over the public shame and humiliation he had brought upon himself, his family and the nation.
The text for this first-ever column in its new location is taken from the first chapter of John Irving's novel A Prayer for Owen Meany: "I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice--not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christia
According to one White House spin doctor, President Clinton didn't want to appear too contrite in his Monica speech because he knew he would soon be back on center stage as commander in chief, defending the U.S. strike against terrorism. The inspiration for that judgment could have come from John Wayne's advice to a young army officer: "Never apologize, mister.
Bill Clinton has served as our national pastor on many occasions, empathizing with those who suffer, comforting those who grieve, and deftly articulating people's sentiments. He is at his best when he speaks to us in times of crisis. In his speech on August 17 the president had another opportunity to speak at a time of crisis. It was an opportunity to speak of his own personal failure.
President Clinton gently urged Chinese leaders to try a little tenderness in dealing with dissidents. But apart from that rhetoric on human rights, it was clear that the real purpose of Clinton’s trip to China was not to scold Chinese leaders but to start reversing the $50 billion imbalance in trade between the two powers.