To the Editor:
My friends, we Americans are a great nation. And thus we need and deserve a great leader. But we are also a nation of great liars, and we should demand nothing less from the men and women we ask to serve as our leaders.
We are a nation of liars because we are unable to handle the truth about where our society is going. At every moment, we think we can forestall crisis for another seven years, another ten, another thirty. The pattern holds whether the crisis is economic, ecological, political, cultural. We cannot bring ourselves to see that these crises are happening now, as we speak, and not only in distant cities. Yet we insist on decrying as a doomsayer or fanatic anyone who tries to show us what precisely is going on.
Who, then, are we to elect to lie us into the next century? (My apologies to those who believe that the 21st century will begin in 2001, not 2000.) Allow me to present the alternatives. On the one hand, there is Bob Dole. Has he ever lied? Is he the liar we need? The renowned political theorist A. Whitney Brown once said he heard Dole say that he liked George Bush as a person. A lie? Or merely sarcasm? On the other hand, there is Bill Clinton. Many will rush to promote him as the double-faced, two-timing scoundrel we need most. Yet something is amiss in Clinton's performances. He talks with such complete, child-like simplicity, such apparent lack of any pretension, that it may be that Clinton is not lying to us. He may just have a highly unusual memory disorder.
Thus, my friends, when it comes to lying to us, as with regard to so much else, our prospective leaders are hopelessly incompetent. And that, as Brown would doubtlessly insist, is the big picture.
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 21; April 19, 1996
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