Archived Sections, Commentary

Which Morality?

Does personal behavior trump public, or is it the other way around?

When Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions with Monica Lewinsky first became public, the Christian Right in America came unglued. The venting of their righteous indignation knew almost no boundaries. Mr. Clinton had desecrated the White House and, by extension, all of America. A pox on him forever! We need a moral president to run this nation.
But wait a minute. I seem to recall some other presidents who had sexual affairs in or out of office, men who are now held in high regard. For starters, there are Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisen-hower and John F. Kennedy. These men are now thought of as having been good — or even great — presidents.
So what is my point? Am I endorsing lecherous presidents? Certainly not! But I also reject all this baloney about wanting my president to be some great paragon of moral virtue.
I would hope our president would demonstrate some level of sexual/ethical decency in his private life. But, most of all, I want a president who is a statesman.
I want a person who is not bought off by the 35,000 paid lobbyists who now infest and corrupt our nation’s capitol.
I want a person who does not cater to corporate giants who line his pockets with legal or illegal campaign contributions.
I want a person who listens, really listens, to the cries of the poor.
I want a person who makes decisions that are in the best interest of every American, no matter what race, creed or color.
I want a person who is courageous in affirming human rights and who embraces the time-honored Geneva Conventions.
I want a person who sees himself as a servant of all the citizens of this land.
I want a person who understands the real horrors of war and would never rush our troops into needless battle.
I want a person who would resist the temptation to declare to the world, “Either you are with us or you are against us,” as if we were the one truly virtuous nation on earth.
I want a person who values the goodwill and cooperation of other nations in addressing the ills of this world.
I want a person who understands how fragile our environment really is and works diligently to protect it.
I want a person who is not driven by a narrow ideology that benefits only the rich and the powerful.
In summary, I want a person of intellect, compassion, and integrity — a person who wants most of all to see all Americans move forward with their lives, enjoying the fruits of freedom and good government while also caring for the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the disabled.
Obviously both moralities are important. The one I value the most at this hour is more public than private.
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Harrington is senior pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Apple Valley,