Clintonization

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Thanks
to the Constitution's 22nd Amendment, on January 20,
2001, we will be spared the ongoing debauchery of arguably the most
depraved and destructive United States President in recent memory,
perhaps in the history of the office of the Presidency. Bill Clinton's
depraved antics should not bring to memory Richard Nixon, who was
a big-time liar and small-time crook, like a number of other United
States Presidents. Clinton, by contrast, the epitome of the postmodernist
politician, has crafted political depravity into an art form. Clinton
transcends the classification as political sinner; he is a principled
antinomian – lawless man. In three distinct ways he has altered
for the foreseeable future the entire political process and landscape.

"Private"
versus "Public"

First,
Clinton has chiseled out a gaping chasm between so-called "private"
morality and "public" performance. He did not accomplish
this all by himself, of course, because without the eager assistance
of an amoral consumerist capitalism, there is no way he could have
pulled this off. Almost the entire culture has shed the Biblical
requirement of God-fearing morality in its political leaders (Dt.
17:14-20) and has replaced it with the model of the smooth,
corporate executive, about whose personal depravity we needn't trifle.
The Bible lays down clear prohibitions and penalties against sins
which today are considered the area of "private" morality
– adultery and homosexuality, for instance. This is because God's
plan is a covenantal, communal society, not an individualistic one.
This covenantalism is designed to operate in terms of the Faith,
secured by individual, family, and church government, not by a coercive
state. Morality in the Bible is regulated almost exclusively by
non-coercive governments – in other words, not by the state. Ironically,
in our postmodern world, the state adopts its own secular and humanistic
morality, which forbids the non-coercive enforcement of morality
by these other governments. The state develops its own (im)morality,
which it coercively imposes.

Clintonization
is a prime example. It has expunged a devout concern for Christian
morality as it relates to a society and culture, and particularly
in politics, while gradually targeting organizations and institutions
like the Boy Scouts that wish to maintain a semblance of Christian
morality. In the near future, leading politicians may be murderers,
liars, rapists, and thugs, just as long as they are successful bureaucratic
executives. Depraved expressions describing Clinton's horrid adultery
with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office – expressions previously
taboo on TV news broadcasts – are now incorporated into the vocabulary
of grade-school children. This is the case of letting the proverbial
cat out of the bag, or, to switch metaphors, slicing the feather
pillow in the wind – once it is done, it is done. It will require
several generations to reverse this evil trend. No successful bureaucratic
executive who brings Christian morality to bear upon social and
cultural ("public") issues need apply, of course. Clinton
has helped install the New Public Immorality. Morality is for private
life only; immorality, by contrast, is for the public sphere – as
long as it is accompanied by bureaucratic efficiency.

Scorched-Earth
Politics

Second,
Clinton has transformed the politics of our constitutional republic
into a cynical, scorched-earth power grab. Clinton and hotshot political
operatives like Dick Morris and Paul Begala have, shall we say,
politicized politics. They have removed every last vestige of statesmanship
and high principle and have replaced it with the destructive tactics
of win at any cost, "rip your opponent's lungs out," adopt
your opponent's position in order to get elected, employ the coercive
arm of the state to destroy your political opponent, use lying legalese
to get away with perjury, obstruct justice to save face, and reinvent
yourself whenever a breathless populace begins to catch up to your
debauched shenanigans. Gone is any sense of magnanimity, of statesmen
who act for causes bigger than themselves, for the good of the nation.
As E. Michael Jones perceptively noted, Bill Clinton, like Ahab
of the Old Testament, was willing to bring down an entire country
down in order to make a point. (This is the President whose White
House aids actually hired a Norwegian public relations firm to get
him the Nobel Peace Prize!) The honorable and just and wise politics
of Biblical figures like Moses (Ex.32:32) and Solomon (1
Kin. 3:16-28) is gone. Gone too is the Christian statesmanship
of George Washington in our own country, Southern Confederate Robert
E. Lee, Abraham Kuyper in Holland, and even American Presidents
of highly questionable Christian commitment like Abraham Lincoln,
Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. Magnanimous statesmanship
has been subverted by cutthroat cynicism. This is the dire legacy
of Clintonization.

The
Political Debasement of the Faith

Third,
and perhaps most grievous of all, Clinton has bequeathed to future
generations and to the country as a whole the political debasement
of Christianity. It is important to distinguish this from the actions
of previous Presidents, who claimed to be Christian and who merely
did not live up to their profession. This would include everyone
from Ulysses S. Grant to George Bush, Sr. With Clinton, we have
an entirely different element (though Jimmy Carter laid the groundwork
for this prostitution). Clinton actually employed his Christian
profession as a tool to advance his anti-Christian agenda. Speaking
last summer on the platform of Bill Hybels' breezy, evangelical
Willow Creek Church, for example, Clinton admitted (finally) that
he had sinned and "made mistakes," but, like on several
other occasions, immediately turned his guns on Republicans (and
others) who had exposed his errors. Hybels, Tony Campolo, and other
ecclesiastical prostitutes (good evangelicals all) eagerly furnished
the Philanderer-in-Chief a Christian platform from which to launch
his spurious repentance and accompanying attacks on just and responsible
individuals who called him to account. After much public outcry,
but most notably only after a blood test conclusively proving
his multiple adulteries, Clinton finally acknowledged he had sinned
with an intern not much older than his own daughter. Unlike David
of old when confronted with a similar sin (2 Sam. 12:1-13),
he hedged on his public confession, relied on the legal cynicism
of his attorneys, and piously coveted prayer from his fawning evangelical
supporters, all the while depicting himself as the stumbling Christian
mercilessly victimized by vindictive politicos. Previous Presidents
employed Christianity as a civil religion by which to provide a
measure of cover for their supposed moral stature. Clinton, by contrast,
attempted to reshape what it means to be a Christian President –
a President should be permitted to commit the most heinous sins,
but just as long as he eventually acknowledges them grudgingly,
he should immediately be forgiven and permitted to revile his accusers,
who did nothing other than follow the normal process of law in calling
him to account for his sins and crimes. Clinton is an antinomian
pietist to the core, antinomian pietism meaning high-sounding gush
that is preferable to simple obedience. Clinton has elevated this
antinomian pietism to the highest echelon of American civil government.
The evangelical pietists, many of whom voted for Clinton, finally
got Their Man in Office; and he acted quite in line with their principles,
that is to say, their lack of principles: adherence to God's law
is not important; sinning feverishly while mouthing pious platitudes
will suffice.

In
these three chief ways, Bill Clinton has polluted the atmosphere
of American politics for decades to come. Feel free to express gratitude
to all the professed "born-again" Christians who voted
for him . . . . twice.

December
6, 2000

P.
Andrew Sandlin is Executive Vice President of the Chalcedon
Foundation
which since 1965 has been dedicated to applying
historic, Biblical Christianity in today's world. He is the author
of Christianity: Bulwark of Liberty and several other works.

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