Hilary, Bill and Noah Webster

>      At one time or another, most people have something they would like to say to someone who is famous…if only they had the opportunity. I had such an experience this morning. If I could speak with Hilary Clinton I’d tell her that when you “misspeak” you say things like “proceed” when you mean to say “precede”… you don’t say you ducked enemy sniper fire when you didn’t. That’s not a misspeak. It’s a lie. So is saying “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman” and “it depends on what is is.” These are also lies. They are not misspeaks.
    Perhaps in the case of Hilary and Bill it’s like the old joke that goes something like this: An elderly husband and wife are sitting in a restaurant. When the meal arrives, the husband turns to the wife and says, “Which one of us doesn’t like the broccoli?” When couples have been together for a long period of time they often take on the characteristics, and habits, of the other. Sort of like those people you occasionally see who eerily look like their dog.
    It’s not necessarily a bad thing to mirror, or echo, someone with whom you have a history. However, I think the goal should be to reflect the best of who they are and what they are capable of rather than the worst. That’s a basic tenet of Life 101.
    And yet, there is a deeper and more troubling aspect to the Clinton’s propensity to bend (and sometimes mutilate) the truth in order to suit their end. It’s the fact that so many of us do it every day… which is why we have allowed the Clinton’s (and others) to get passes on accountability. Deep down inside, not only do we know they are lying, we know that we are lying as well. To judge them would mean to turn the bright light of truth around upon ourselves. Not a pretty prospect.
    I am, admittedly, a little irrational on this issue. I have a passion for honesty, born out of a childhood where family members routinely played with the truth and I spent more than a few good years trying to do the same. Fortunately, as a result, I learned rather early on that whatever the outcome, lying is never worth paying the price of diminished self-esteem…the natural outgrowth of willfully failing to tell the truth.
    The truth is also easier. Maybe not in the short run, for it can surely sting. But if it does, there must be an open wound somewhere and I’d rather cauterize it with the truth than cover it up with a lie…allowing it to fester into something much more deadly and significantly harder to heal. In that long run, there are no connivances or elaborate scenarios to remember with the truth. It simply “is.”
    Which brings us back to Bill and Hilary. He parsed what “is” meant and she is trying to parse what “misspeak” means. For my part, Noah Webster set it right a long time ago and nothing has changed since. “Is” is the present tense of the verb “to be.”  In a nutshell, therefore, either you are or you aren’t. “Misspeak” is pronouncing or speaking incorrectly. It’s about form, not substance. When the substance is knowingly in error, its a flat-out lie.
    If Hilary doesn’t know and can’t recall that she calmly walked off that plane in Kosovo rather than ” run with her head down to avoid sniper fire”…well, she’s not competent to be (verb intransitive) President of the United States.
    As for the rest of us, let’s just be honest with ourselves…and, oh yes, each other.

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